After a celebrated opening of the south pier at the Milton Landing several months ago, it was recently closed by Marlborough Councilman and project manager Howard Baker after he met with Code Enforcement Officer Tom Corcoran and Brandee Nelson of the consulting firm of Tighe & Bond, about a number of final inspections that need to be completed by the contractor before a Certificate of Compliance can be issued for the pier.
Several weeks prior to the closure, Corcoran issued a formal notice in writing to the Town Board on November 1, informing them that he has not received certain required information and inspection reports on the structure.
“The failure to receive any information, third party inspections and no response to the missing handrails on the dock, make this entire pier dangerous and not suitable for occupancy,” he wrote. “Any injuries or issues at the pier as of this date and time will not be the responsibility or the liability of the Building Inspector or the Building Department since notice has been given verbally and now in writing.”
Corcoran said still outstanding are certifications for welding, pier connections and factory construction that is overseen by Ms. Nelson. She certifies these items and then submits them to Corcoran, who in turn determines if everything is finally complete before issuing a Certificate of Compliance for the entire project.
Councilman Baker gave an update on the status of the pier at last week’s Town Board meeting, noting that Corcoran has raised legitimate concerns about the lack of completeness of the project. Baker said the insurance for the contractor, the Arben Group, had expired but has recently been reinstated and extended through April 2022. Baker said the Arben Group has not been particularly cooperative as far as other items that need to be addressed
“We’re trying to work through the things that have come to light in the past couple of weeks,” Baker said. “I think we’re making progress but it’s a little slow.”
Baker said still unresolved is what the board wants to do about installing 6 pilings at the pier in order to accommodate large boats. At the time the Town Board approved the $1.6 million project, they pulled these pilings from the project, which lowered the overall price tag by $136,000. To install them today, the board admitted they may be facing a total cost that is north of $200,000 and are hoping it does not hit $300,000.
Supervisor Al Lanzetta commented on the current logjam in discussing these finishing touches with the Arben Group.
“Sorry we got this far and I know sometimes when a contractor is not cooperative, it is very challenging,” he said.
In a subsequent interview, Corcoran said doing an inspection on a home is quite different than for a pier. He said a third party inspection would review all of the weldings, how the attachment of the gangplank to the existing dock was done and would certify if the pilings were properly driven into the Hudson River bed to their proper depth.
Corcoran said in hindsight he should not have let the ribbon cutting ceremony take place because there was no Certificate of Compliance on the structure.
“But I let it go, that was my fault and I’ll take responsibility for that. I shouldn’t have let it happen and I just should have shut it down, but I didn’t,” he said. “It’s like letting someone move into their house without a Certificate of Occupancy, you just can’t do it.”
Corcoran said if someone were to get hurt on the pier the liability would fall on the town and perhaps some on him. In addition, the contractor would also be on the hook in that scenario. He said that Baker, as project manager, should have hired an independent, certified individual to perform these tasks.
Corcoran commented on the way the pier project was put forward to the public by the Town Board. A key element of the $1.6 million project was to be able to attract large cruise ships that would bring money into the community, “but when it comes to taking something out because the costs go over budget, you take out the one thing you promised the people you were going to do, dock cruise ships.” He believes the ultimate cost to put those pilings in now may be double or triple the amount they saved. He is also concerned that when new pilings are installed will there be any structural damage to the new pier or to any of the welds that have already been done.
Corcoran is hoping he will soon receive all of the inspection reports so he can certify the pier, leading the way toward its reopening.