Will synthetic dock make a splash with selectmen?
By Dawn De Busk
NAPLES — The item to be discussed was the purchase and installation of sections of wooden docks to extend the town’s public dock on the Causeway.
The hoped-for timeline was before the Fourth of July, when tens of thousands of people visit the Causeway and the boating season goes full throttle.
The bid deadline had passed for a job to build the dock extensions. And, one of the bidders had an offer of a dock system that would last years longer and keep more feet from getting wet.
The Naples Board of Selectmen decided to do a site walk of a similar dock system being finished on the Causeway before deciding between the synthetic and wooden docks.
The question of rather to spend additional funding for a longer-lasting dock or stick with the original plan will come up at the next meeting on June 5.
On Monday evening, Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak addressed the two bids for the town dock expansion with wooden docks.
“We did put out” referrals for proposals “for seven sections of 10’x16’ to expand on the infrastructure on the Causeway,” Paraschak said.
“This wouldn’t be to replace, just to add to that system that we have. We did receive two bids, one from Great Northern Docks and one from Sebago Docks.”
He said Sebago Docks submitted the lower bid.
Chairman Bob Caron II said, “That is what we asked for to get it into water by July 1 before” the Fourth of July.
“We asked if we could get it rushed for before July 4,” he said.
The board ended up not awarding the bid for the dock extension. Instead, the board voted to get a second price on the composite dock.
“We have to get a second bid if we go down this path,” Caron said.
Steve Merriam, of Great Northern Docks said the company submitted a bid to have work done on wooden docks by July 1, and that could still be done if that is what the board decided.
“It is tight but we can make it,” Merriam said.
“However, we brought alternate bids that will save the town money. Based on the current setup, we felt there is something new that we wanted to bring to the table,” he said.
“We are not the low bidder, but we made all the sections before. They would be made to same size, same buoyancy and the same high quality you have come to expect from Great Northern Docks,” he said. “We can make the deadline. However, we can make docks faster if you’d like.”
“This is technology that has been around [for a while] but has become more affordable,” he said. “These docks are all polyurethane. The entire system is floatation, which gives you more capacity; it is less likely to get feet wet when the dock is crowded.”
“It doesn’t rock and roll,” Merriam said. “It acts like a blanket over the waves and absorbs the motion.”
“They go together easily so town employees could take them apart and reconfigure them,” he said, comparing the docks sections to LEGO® bricks, and saying that the town would be sidestepping the rental of heavy equipment in order to move the existing wooden dock sections.
The selectmen were hesitant to pounce on either idea — going for composite docks with more stability and a longer lifespan, or awarding the bid and guaranteeing the installation of wooden docks before Independence Day.
After Merriam expounded on the merits of the polyurethane docks, Town Manager Paraschak spoke.
“Obviously, this isn’t what we put out to bid,” he said. “What would be the end deadline?”
Merriam said, “One or two weeks to order plus book a diver ahead of time.”
In addition to the docks sections, there would be Helix anchors to stabilize the docks, while allowing them to move with the wave action and shifting of weight, he said.
There are some problems with the current setup of the town dock, which is located on the Causeway, where a concrete foundation with a bench at the end is the base for wooden docks and ramps. The problem is the location of the pilings that are used to anchor the docks when they are in the water.
When the dock system was put in “pilings became the answer. The initial year it was done and the following years, it was where it needed to be,” Merriam said. “Somehow it creeped its way in too close to the pier.”
Currently, the pilings are “too close to the dock. It makes the docks behave differently and dangerously. Those pilings are too close to the concrete. The whole system should have been further out,” he said.
Another logistic that is thrown into the equation is that the town dock gets smaller by a few dock sections because those are floated out into Long Lake for the fireworks display, Paraschak pointed out.
During the discussion, board members calculated prices for the wooden versus the composite dock system. Two options were put forward: to go with the wooden dock bid which is already contingent on the town meeting, or to wait until next year and install composite docks.
Selectman Kevin Rogers suggested a site walk or live demonstration of how the docks behave on the water.
“Do you have enough to do a demo? [It is hard for the board] to go out on a limb and invest. It would be nice to have a demo. It is a pretty serious expense for a product that none of us are aware of,” Rogers said.
Merriam said the business is putting in a dock system near the Causeway, and selectmen could have a look at it when it was completed.
Chairman Bob Caron II expressed his concern about the safety of the dock system as it stands now.
“Are the docks safe for this weekend?” he asked.
Paraschak said, “The whole system is fairly secure. Unless we have a hurricane, it is not going anywhere.”