Thomas Property housing project underway
The proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” could be applied to the town’s efforts regarding its town employee housing initiative. After not receiving a response to a first round of bids in September, the town received three bidders for its voter-approved $1.5 million Thomas Property project on Dec. 18, on the second try.
At its meeting on Monday, Jan. 7, the Town Council voted unanimously (4-0) to award the contract for building the three-bedroom single-family dwelling part of the project to Connecticut Valley Homes, based out of East Lyme, Conn. The contractor, which submitted the low bid of $558,194, was awarded a Builder of the Year award in 2018 by the Home Builders and Modelers Association of Eastern, Conn., according to the company’s website. Connecticut Valley Homes will fabricate the modular structure and then install it on the site.
Second Warden André Boudreau made the motion for awarding the contract to Connecticut Valley Homes that was seconded by Councilor Chris Willi. First Warden Ken Lacoste was absent.
During the meeting, Town Manager Ed Roberge said the contractor met the budget, scope and timeframe for the project. “So we recommend that we advance the project forward.”
“I think they’re a competent builder,” said Boudreau. “I’m comfortable with that company.” Boudreau noted that the other bidders were Belfast, Maine-based Go Logic (bidding $680,681) and East Greenwich-based Zarrella Development Corp. ($691,400).
Councilor Sven Risom said that “a number of island subcontractors will be very involved with that project, from land preparation, to cement to a few other things. So it’s nice that the contractor will be working with people we know.”
Roberge told The Times after the meeting that the Thomas Property project should be completed by April of 2020, and would involve two phases: construction of the single-family dwelling at a budget of around $500,000, followed by conversion of the existing duplex into a four-unit rental apartment building at a cost of about $1 million.
Roberge, who could be the senior town employee that will occupy the single-family dwelling, said that the town’s “goal is to get that project started in March. We’re confident the contractor can complete the work by the end of June.”
Roberge said the project will go before the Planning Board for approval involving development plan review and a public hearing in February. Once approved by the board, Connecticut Valley Homes will fabricate the three-bedroom dwelling and install it on the southeast corner of the Thomas Property.
Roberge said he is scheduled to vacate his apartment on Water Street in the Figurehead building at the end of May. “We’re looking around for another apartment,” said Roberge, before adding that once the single-family dwelling is completed his family would be “fortunate” to occupy it.
As for the duplex renovation, Roberge said construction could begin in October and be completed by April of 2020. “I’m very optimistic” the project will be completed by then, he said. That work will involve building a four-unit rental apartment building for town employee occupancy within the existing duplex’s footprint.
Aquaculture lease agreement
In other news, the Town Council voted unanimously to amend the aquaculture contract agreement for Cormorant Cove, per input from the town manager, Shellfish Commission, Harbors Department, and Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. Risom made the motion that was seconded by Boudreau.
Harbors Department Administrative Assistant Kate McConville told The Times that, “The changes to the lease agreement involve the dates the farmers are permitted to put and keep their product on the town aquaculture area. The dates were the second Saturday in May through the Saturday after Columbus day. It is now May 1 to October 31. This allows the farmers more time to move their product that they are going to sell throughout the summer out to the town area by the Coast Guard Station. It also gives them more time at the end of the season so they are not rushing to move product that was not sold back into the inner ponds. The farmers must move all their product that is going to be sold in the summer season out of the inner ponds because the inner ponds are closed to shellfishing.”
“I’d like to congratulate Town Manager Ed Roberge on his one-year anniversary of working for the town, which is tomorrow,” said Boudreau, during the Warden’s Report. Boudreau’s comments were met with applause. “I think we’ve collectively accomplished many great things in the past year. And, no doubt, that’s because of your professionalism and your leadership skills. Thank you for sticking around.”
“The New Year started on a somber note with the sinking of the fishing boat called the Mistress on New Year’s Day,” said Boudreau at the outset of the meeting. “I think I speak for the community when I say our hearts go out to the families of Oscar Diaz and John Ansay. I think it’s pertinent to note also the heroism during the search, especially that of the crew of the Captain Bligh.”
The next Town Council meeting will be a special meeting with Interstate Navigation on Monday, Jan. 14 at noon at Town Hall. That meeting will involve learning about Interstate’s rate issues and its plans for constructing a 500-passenger fast ferry.