Beach pavilion contract awarded

Work to commence Sept. 18
Fri, 09/08/2017 - 8:30am

The Fred Benson Beach Pavilion will be getting a “light rehab” this fall, winter and into spring as the New Shoreham Town Council unanimously approved awarding of the project’s contract at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to Lincoln-based Mill City Construction, Inc. Facilities Manager Sam Bird told the Council that construction on the beach pavilion could begin on Sept. 18, and that $940,000 was “available” for the project, with $140,000 in contingency. Bird said the targeted completion date for substantial construction is late April. 

“We had two bidders for the project,” said Bird, noting that Mill City bid $843,585, and Providence-based Maron Construction bid $866,100. He said, “Mill City provided good, solid references,” and noted that Maron Construction provided references during the previous bidding process in December when the bids were vacated due to a faulty bidding process.

Cliff McGinnes, Sr., who was in attendance at the meeting, spoke “in favor of Mill City,” saying they did good work. McGinnes said the “last major construction” project they built here was Sharky’s restaurant on Corn Neck Road, and the building was well constructed. McAloon’s Restaurant now occupies that building.

Councilor Chris Willi asked Bird when the start time was for construction work on the beach pavilion.

“We’re going to make the building available Sept. 18,” said Bird. “That gives us a week to move all of the stuff out of there, and go through the building to look for anything that we’re going to salvage.”

Willi asked Bird if any of the parking area would be made available “to the public” during the construction process. To which Bird said, “We haven’t worked that out specifically with the contractor yet, because we don’t have a contractor yet. (The agreement between the town and the contractor has not yet been executed.) But as soon as we do we will discuss the parking areas... I can’t imagine they’re going to need the entire parking area” during the construction period, added Bird. “I’m sure we can work that out with them in terms of the nuts and bolts of how we share the parking area.”

“Sam — as Facilities Manager — your judgment is that they are responsive and responsible?” asked Councilor Martha Ball.

“Yes” they are, said Bird.

J-1 visa program

Seeking to ensure the existence of the J-1 Visa program on Block Island, the Town Council unanimously approved the sending of a letter written by Harbor Church pastor Steve Hollaway to Gov. Gina Raimondo, Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressman James Langevin. Hollaway, who hosts the J-1 students at the church, said that a recent Wall Street Journal story noted that the elimination of the program by the Trump administration seemed imminent.

In his letter, which Hollaway read aloud to the Town Council, he states that: “It has been reported that the current administration has given the State Department directives calling for the elimination of certain categories of the J-1 visa, including the Work and Travel Program.” The State Department has oversight of the J-1 program and its different categories. 

  “I have to agree with everything in that letter,” said Councilor André Boudreau. “I don’t think that we can afford to lose this program. I don’t think we can run this Island without that program.”

“It’s very concerning,” said Ball.

Block Island Chamber of Commerce President Kathy Szabo said island businesses can stay open later in the year due to the J-1 workforce on the island. “They fill the gap,” she said.

First Warden Ken Lacoste, who made the motion to send the letter to the state’s officials, thanked Hollaway for his concern. In reply, Hollaway said, “Thank you for your support.”

The next Town Council meeting is a work session scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.