Council Approves Hire for Cove Dock Design
WETHERSFIELD - A Wethersfield Cove dock replacement initiative is one step closer to getting started, as the Wethersfield Town Council voted unanimously to grant the Harbor Management Commission permission to hire Ocean and Coastal Consultants to complete the final design and bid specifications for the first phase of the Harbor Management Plan at its meeting last Monday night.

       The $47,875 engineering work will include a design for the new docks as well as 20 additional boat moorings and navigational aids.

       Project plans also include a boat launch ramp--a component that is unfunded by a $494,000 boating and infrastructure grant from the federal government.

       “We’re closer to a deal with the state and we’re just trying to prepare ourselves to be ready to go,” said Kathy Bagley, staff liaison to the Harbor Management Commission, during the meeting.

       Bagley expects the design phase to take between four and six weeks.

       Replacing the 30-year-old docks is just the first component of a larger plan for Wethersfield Cove. The Harbor Management Commission is looking to include environmental protection measures, such as water quality monitoring, in a long-term effort to preserve the area for recreational use. An absence of outflow via a river has made the Cove’s water unfit to swim in, Bagley said last year.

       The Harbor Management Plan as a whole was approved by the Council at the end of last year.

       The existing docks are weighted down by anchors, which can be problematic when the water level rises. Their replacements are built to rise with the water level in the event of tide changes and storm surges, Bagley said last year.

       “The docks have always been our first priority, because these docks will give us many more days to be able to use the Cove,” Bagley said after the meeting. “This past summer, there were many days of high water where the docks were not accessible.”

       Bagley is hoping that the town, state, and federal government can complete a contract for the initiative by the time the design phase is complete. Although the grant is federal, Wethersfield’s application went through the state for approval, and now the three parties need to complete the paperwork--a process that Bagley estimates can take between a month and two months.

       “We just have to make sure that all the language is appropriate and that takes time,” she said. “You’re dealing with three different government bodies.”

       As far as the boat launch ramp goes, the Commission is still searching for a funding source and has explored the possibility of seeking grants, saving money from boating fees, or going to the town, Bagley said.

       “It may not be only one source,” Bagley said. “A lot of times it ends up being a combination.”

       The ramp is expected to cost approximately $500,000, according to Bagley.