Selectmen OK Drawing Up Description of Pear Tree Beach Dredging Project to Put Before Bidding Contractors

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The Darien selectmen recently approved $25,500 to create a bid proposal documenting what steps contractors would agree to do in order to prevent erosion at Pear Tree Point Beach.

“The purpose of this request for $25,500 is to really fund [project consultants] Weston & Sampson to go out and develop bid documents,First Selectman Jon Zagrodzky said at the July 1 meeting of the Board of Selectmen. “The bid documents would provide basically all the information that any contractor would need to bid on this project — these parts — and then hopefully we would have a number of bidders and we would be able to select a low-cost bidder.

“That beach is at risk. There’s no doubt about it,” Zagrodzky said. “This is a smart investment, in my judgment, to try to mitigate the worst of some of the flooding and changes as we’ve seen it. […]

Zagrodzky Board of Selectmen

Image from Darien TV79 video

Zagrodzky making a point during the selectmens’ meeting on July 1, which was held on a call. Zagrodzky and Selectman Monica McNally participated from what looks like Zagrodzky’s Town Hall office.

The project involves three “actions or work streams,” Zagrodzky told selectmen. The first action, he said, involves erosion and flooding.

“Any time we’ve got sort of heavy rain over short duration, particularly if it’s at high tide, you can have practically the entire parking lot flooding.”

“One of the things they’re worried about is not just the parking lot itself, but potential erosion of the beach that abuts that parking lot, and so what they [Weston & Sampson] have created is an engineering plan to try to significantly mitigate — you can never get rid of every flooding risk — but to significantly mitigate the potential flooding and future beach erosion.”

But more than dredging is needed, Zagrodzky said: “The second piece of the proposed work entails the rebuilding of the […] boat launch that is at the top end of the parking lot. This replaces a boat ramp that is essentially too shallow, so […] you’ve gotta drive well into the water before your boat floats off the ramp. It’s been a problem for a long time.”

But there’s also more dredging involved, he said: “The third piece of the work is to actually dredge the area around the boat club , so this would go where the boat ramp basically is at the top of the parking lot all the way around to the gas pumps.

“Now that dredging […] around the [Darien] Boat Club was last done, I think, around 2001, so it’s been a long time,” Zagrodzky said. “I’ve been, like many of us have been, over there to see the flooding, and I’ve talked a bit to Craig Flaherty [at Redniss & Meade] who’s led a lot of the engineering around town on flooding, generally.

“When Weston & Sampson, working also with Redniss & Mead, came up with this proposal, they had a cost estimate of a little over $6.6 million,” he said. “I forwarded around a presentation on that so you could take a look at some of their numbers, but those were just their estimates,” Zagrodzky told selectmen.

At this point, town officials only have estimates on what the project would cost, Parks & Recreation Director Jennifer Fava said. “We won’t really know what people will charge until we bid this out. The way for us to get real numbers is to put this out to bid and see how it comes back.”

Parks & Recreation Director Jennifer Fava during the call.

Fava reminded selectmen that the work being proposed for the beach requires “the certificate of permission from DEEP [the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] issued in October of 2022, and it’s valid for five years.

“So we’re already about two years into it, and there are portions of time where they limit [what activity] can happen, in order to protect certain fish and shellfish, so we don’t even have that full three years [left]. […] It is something we would want to move on.”

The proposal for financing the bid-documents and starting the bid process was heard by the Parks and Recreation Commission on June 12, Fava said. The commission voted to support the bidding plan.

Here’s the video of the meeting. The discussion about Pear Tree Point Beach started at about 19 minutes after the meeting started.

Board Of Selectmen 7-1-2024 from Darien TV79 on Vimeo.

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