7
Feb

Visitor's docks replacement proceeds at Veterans Park amid complaint to DEEP – Thehour.com

NORWALK — The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection confirmed Monday that it has received a complaint concerning the replacement of the underwater boat launch ramps at Veterans Memorial Park.

“We had a complaint about dredged material being stockpiled on shore in work area,” said DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain. “We alerted Army Corps of Engineers and we are scheduling a site visit.”

Michael A. Mocciae, Norwalk’s director of recreation and parks, said Roberge Associates, the city’s consultant for the project, has responded to the complaint filed with the DEEP.

“We sent a letter back up to them saying we complied with the permit application, so we’re waiting to hear back from them, Mocciae said.

Last August, the Norwalk Common Council approved a $2.1 million contract with L. Holzner Construction of Bridgeport to replace the deteriorated underwater launch ramps, install a headwall and raise the parking lot at the David S. Dunavan Boating Center, other known as the Norwalk Visitor’s Docks, at Veterans Park.

Last fall, the DEEP issued a Temporary Authorization and Certificate of Approval allowing the work to proceed subject to conditions. Among other things, no construction material, excavated material or debris “shall be deposited, placed or stored in any wetland or watercourse on or off-site.”

The boating center closed Oct. 30 to accommodate the work, which now is proceeding behind a veiled fence. On Monday afternoon, partially covered asphalt and other construction debris stood piled in the parking lot area of the site as a massive crane lifted a piling from the water near the launch ramps.

“It was setting the new steel piles, which are foundation for the ramps — it’s there to drive the steel piles,” said Joel Yencho, general manager with Holzner Construction. “It was also pulling out some piles.”

Yencho said work is progressing as planned with an anticipated completion date at the end of April.

“Things are on track for that,” Yencho said.

While the city and Holzner are shooting for May 1 to complete the project and reopen the Visitor’s Docks to boaters, much important work lies ahead to meet that schedule.

“We have to wait for the asphalt plants to open so they can pave the (parking) lots,” Mocciae said. “We’re putting all new sewer and water lines in. We just want everything to be wrapped up so the boaters can use it May 1.”

Mocciae said sewer and water lines running to the pump house, as well as electrical utility lines, must be addressed “to make sure we’re not digging everything up again” at a later date.

The old wooden boat launch ramps were in place for more than 60 years and had no life left in them. Boaters often got their trailers stuck while using the ramps. The new ramps will be made of concrete with a steel underbelly, according to Mocciae.

The project represents the first phase of improvements to the visitor’s docks at Veterans Park. The second phase, which will begin this fall if funding is made available, will replace the docks and install steel piles to support them.

Robert O. Barron, Norwalk’s director of finance, recently recommended allocating $1.9 million in the city’s forthcoming 2017-18 capital budget to pay for that work. Mocciae expressed hope that the Common Council will support the funding request when it approves the capital budget in April.

“I’m looking forward to finishing that first phase and starting up the second one in October,” Mocciae said.

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