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Fish ladder removal poised to commence 8-8-15

Fish ladder removal poised to commence
$500K contract awarded to Connecticut company

Gloucester Times

Posted: Saturday, August 8, 2015 3:00 am
By Ray Lamont Staff Writer


Gloucester officials have awarded a nearly $500,000 contract for a project aimed at removing a crumbling fish ladder and lagoon system. The system was installed with the 1969 construction of the West Gloucester water treatment plant, but has long since outlived its use.
RC&D Inc., a civil engineering and environmental design company based in Pawtucket, R.I., was awarded the bid this week to carry out the city's Little River natural stream restoration project at a cost of up to $463,500, according to Amy Capone, the city's assistant purchasing agent.
Greg Cademartori, Gloucester's planning director, said Friday the project could start by the end of August.
"We had always projected that the stabilization and site construction work — a significant grading operation — could be completed by late fall," Cademartori said. He said there will be some additional monitoring work and a planting effort later this fall and into next spring.
RC&D was one of 11 contractors to bid on the project, and the only one from outside of Massachusetts. There were no bidders from Gloucester or Cape Ann. The company's winning bid slightly exceeds the initial cost estimate of $460,000, which was to be funded through a $310,000 state grant and a $150,000 share put up by the city.
While the project's cost has risen, so, too, has the amount of money being allocated by the state's Office of Coastal Zone Management and Division of Ecological Restoration.
"When the bids came in, we appealed to Coastal Zone Management for additional funding, and they approved an added $90,000," Cademartori said, bringing the state's share to $400,000 for the work and the overall money available to $550,000. The initial CZM grant, he said, had been extended with the idea of providing a cushion in the event of cost overruns, and the added state money provides the same flexibility, he said.

Workers will remove and dispose of the concrete fish ladder and portions of a concrete lagoon, excavate the underground channel off the river, and restore the stream's natural flow.
Cademartori explained that the old fish ladder and its related systems — installed to essentially shift a narrow stream that once carried alewife, smelt and other fish up to Lily Pond to spawn — was designed to aid the fish's upstream route by offering a concrete channel to carry them.

But in recent years, the decaying fish ladder and channel has become more of a hindrance to wildlife. And the city has not used the water treatment lagoon since carrying out a series of water treatment improvements over at least the last six years.
Jim Destino, the city's chief of administration, has noted that a 2007 report by Milone & MacBroom Inc., a civil engineering consulting firm, explored the feasibility of clearing out the concrete channel.
The consultants' report recommended a project that would, among other things, "create a more natural stream configuration ... provide for upstream migration of alewife, glass eels ... and other resident species," and "minimize long-term operations and maintenance." But the project never went forward.
Now, the awarding of the contract means the stream's natural restoration is poised to begin.
"It will be a highly visible project, but it should also be minimally disruptive," said Cademartori, adding that the work will be contained off Essex Avenue and within the site. "It should be good for everybody."
Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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