On Thursday evening, the Sandwich selectmen will weigh in on a $2.5 million plan to help shift the Sandwich Marina office from its perch over water to a spot on dry land.
The selectmen are scheduled at their meeting Thursday, August 7, to review and potentially vote on a plan to relocate the marina office, add year-round public bathrooms, build a garage nearby and shift the existing playground to a spot elsewhere on the marina property.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the canal and leases the land at the marina to the town, gave conditional approval June 24 to the plan.
Should the board of selectmen approve the plan, the town would move ahead with the project. The preliminary project calls for completion of construction by November 2015.
The office, which would consist of one and a half stories and 2,010 square feet, would be placed on land along Freezer Road. A public, year-round restroom facility measuring 680 square feet would be included as part of that building. Currently, there are no year-round bathroom facilities at the marina.
The town would finance the project with a $2.5 million debt exclusion that would be paid through the marina’s revolving fund, rather than as an extra tax on Sandwich property owners.
The proposed project could represent the light at the end of a 25-year tunnel, the length of time that the town has grappled with a way to find a way to improve its marina facilities that would pass muster with the Army Corps.
The existing office, set on a pier in the East Boat Basin, periodically floods in the winter, forcing the harbormaster and his staff to move files and other equipment off the marina office floor to prevent them from being damaged or destroyed.
The office also lacks restrooms. In the winter, when other restrooms at or near the marina are shut down, employees literally must leave the marina to go to the restroom.
According to a design feasibility study prepared by Brown, Lindquist, Fenuccio & Raber Architects, a goal of the project is to “create a welcoming and inviting presence for marina and [Army Corps recreational] activities.
To that end, the architects state that in the proposal, “The harbormaster building is prominently positioned off Freezer Road with a welcoming public entrance and wraparound porch to encourage visitors to stay and enjoy the views.”
The $2.5 million proposal also includes the construction of a one-story, three-bay garage to store marina vehicles and to provide work space for harbor activities.
The plan further calls for reconstruction of a popular playground at the basin farther north along Freezer Road, closer to the canal.
Sandwich Harbormaster David R. Whearty said children and families using the playground still will be able to see boats in the East Basin, and now will have a better view of marine traffic on the canal itself.
Following concerns expressed by the Army Corps, the playground will be nudged back from its position near the canal in the architectural plan and the height of a protective fence at the playground will be increased.
In a June 24 letter to Mr. Whearty, Joseph M. Redlinger, the chief of the real estate division of the corps, wrote that the corps plans to extend the town’s lease when it modifies the document to allow for the new location of the marina office. The corps plans to extend the lease from 2024 to 2029.
In the letter, Mr. Redlinger said that the corps was giving conditional approval for the town’s latest plan. In particular, the approval rests on town compliance with pertinent laws and regulations, including permit requirements.
“Our approval is also subject to continued coordination with us as you develop your plans in more detail,” the corps official wrote.