Boothbay Harbor Selectmen

19 By-Way gets demolition extension, deadline May 25

Posted:  Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 4:30pm

The Boothbay Harbor Selectmen granted Knickerbocker Group more time to demolish the former Romar Bowling Alley at 19 By-Way. The May 8 vote ran 4-1  to approve the request with a condition that work begins immediately, and that Town Manager Tom Woodin receive regular progress reports.

Selectmen Wendy Wolf, Mike Tomko, Denise Griffin, and Russ Hoffman approved it. Selectman Tricia Warren opposed it. 

“Motion carries. Good luck and get to it,” Griffin said.

Warren, who works in the By-Way area, was skeptical that the new deadline of Thursday, May 25 could be met.

Knickerbocker, representing client Rahul Anand, was permitted by the town to perform the demolition work between April 17 and May 17, but several factors contributed to the request for the extension, according to Architectural Designer Randy Smith. 

“We’ve been going through the permitting process for a while now. The contractors we lined up were trying to hold us in their schedule the best that they could, but until the project became real, it was difficult to lock everybody in,” Smith said. Some contractors had to say no as time passed because they needed to work, he said.

Knickerbocker also had several requests from people wanting to salvage items from the building. “We could have gone into it with an excavator and crunched it. We were trying to get things to people because it was a staple in their lives for 40 or 50 years. That set us back a bit,” said Smith.

Smith told selectmen, asbestos removal is complete. This Wednesday, May 10, Central Maine Power is scheduled to shut off the power. Contractor Eric Wood is scheduled to begin demolishing the building. Smith isn’t worried about getting the building down, but he did express concern about the sidewalk. Originally made of wood, it has been paved over. To leave it as is during construction, it must be cut away from the building.

“If we can’t keep that sidewalk, we would need to pave a new temporary sidewalk for the summer months, which would be torn out again for a new concrete sidewalk,” Smith said.  He also mentioned that cleaning up the site might take a couple of extra days.

Hoffman asked, “What assurance do we have that this is going to happen on this schedule?”

“We have all of the variables under control. We’re at a point now where we’re comfortable. We have the schedule together now,” Smith said.

Tomko wanted to know if the parking spaces in front of the building would be available Memorial Day weekend. Smith said there was a chance they may not be, but they would be usable after Memorial Day. 

Woodin told Smith he was skeptical. “This is all being done in 17 days. If this was a municipal job, I’d be scared to death that it wouldn’t go off on time. You’ve put yourself in a real time crunch.”

Ronald Stoddard, one of the owners of McSeagull’s Restaurant on Wharf Street, agreed with Woodin.  “I’m scared to death, too. I don’t think they can do this in that time frame. That By-Way is valuable to my business. If we don’t have a sidewalk for pedestrians to walk on, we people down on the dock are going to be hurting.”

Smith said accommodating people and juggling schedules had taken valuable time. “Now we’re coordinating everybody and this is what we’re able to do. It’s up to you to allow us to move forward. If you say we can’t have the time extension, we will have to re-evaluate the project and talk about a new schedule.”

Griffin said it made sense to get the demolition done as soon as possible.   

Betty Jeanne Maddocks, owner of Jansen’s Clothing store on Commercial Street, agreed with Griffin. “I don’t have a problem with that extra week. I just want some accountability. But now is better than later.”

Warren worried the schedule was too tight. “Memorial Day weekend is huge. There has to be some way that this is 100 percent down and safe enough for tourists coming into town. This is a kickoff for us. We can’t mess around.”

Smith assured Warren the building would be down and the area would be safe, but if a temporary sidewalk needed to be built, it would take up parking spaces for the weekend.