Frustration over the growing list of problems with the Eastport Coast Guard Station building was vented by Eastport Port Authority board members at their October 16 meeting. The port authority so far has paid nearly $135,000 for repair work on the eight-year-old building, with only $8,000 having been covered by insurance. Problems began cropping up four years after the building was finished.
Port Director Chris Gardner noted that contractors who did recent repair work found "substantial rot" in the building. Since the building was finished, the roof had to be reshingled twice, windows have had to be replaced because of stress cracking, doors have been repaired because they won't close, the exterior lighting has been redone because the bulbs were blowing out, the ventilation shaft to the kitchen had to be replaced because of water damage since the flashing work was inadequate, the exterior walls near the front door, the entryway and the trim boards within four feet of the ground are being replaced because of rot, the air-conditioning units are failing because they are residential grade, the heating system had to be repaired because controls for a zone valve had not been hooked up and the system never shut off, the heating system's zone valves are being replaced as they are residential grade, the flooring tiles on the second floor were replaced because they were popping up, and the sewer system backed up into the station because a flapper valve had not been installed.
Gardner believes that the port authority now has fixed most of the issues. "I hope we've caught all the gremlins," he says, but he notes that work still has to be done on the heating system, and the ends of the HardiePlanks will have to be sealed and some will have to be replaced because they are breaking apart.
Board members directed Gardner to send a letter to the contractor, Mike Temple of Hampden, so that he will be aware of all of the problems. All previous attempts to reach Temple have been unsuccessful. Gardner says the port authority would be reluctant to use his services in the future.
"You'd think he'd want to stand behind his work," says the port director. "I've been most disappointed that there's not been a partnership in coming up with a solution."
At the meeting, Gardner said the cruise ship season had been "a tremendous success" and noted that the captain of The World indicated that the visit to Eastport was well received by those on the ship and he expected there would be a return visit. Gardner extended the port authority's appreciation to Chris Brown, Tess Ftorek and the volunteer ambassadors for all of their efforts. Although no ships are scheduled for next year, he hoped there would be more visits the following year.
With the port authority now being able to qualify for municipal bond rates, it will save approximately $165,000 over the life of its loan for the bulk conveyor system project. Also, with a lower interest rate on its loan through The First for the Coast Guard station building, the port authority will save about $50,000 over the remaining eight years.
The board discussed the arrangement for Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) to continue leasing the port authority's barge. Board member Dean Pike noted that the port authority had the barge built to maintain its docks and piers and will need it at some point. Gardner said it was understood that as long as ORPC needs the barge the company can continue using it, but it will eventually revert back to the port authority. If ORPC wants it for a long-term period, a new arrangement may need to be worked out.
Perry Marine & Construction has nearly completed the float expansion project on the north side of the breakwater. Proposals for short-term repair of the breakwater on the northern and eastern faces are being obtained, and Gardner hopes that the work can be done this fall.
The port director reported that he is optimistic that operations using the bulk material yard to ship wood chips will begin before the end of the year. He noted that the "stagnant holding pattern" has been caused by market conditions, but now the economy is coming back in Europe.
The transfer of the BASF property on Broad Cove will not occur until next year, after the Department of Environmental Protection has signed off on all of the cleanup of the site.
Board member Bob Peacock reported that Randall Thompson Jr., who has proposed undertaking a pilot project at the fish pier to test a tidal energy device that would use the vertical movement of the tides to generate electricity, recently met with Peter Vigue, CEO of Cianbro Corporation, which may be interested in being a contractor to design the device. Peacock noted that Vigue also is interested in the port and how the proposed east-west highway could help the port.
Toby Urquhart has been hired as a part-time office assistant for the port authority.