Helping people move safely and easily throughout the city is a contant Gloucester Department of Public Works directive. One recent construction project with CDBG ADA funds that’s fast finishing will be a welcome addition in the neighborhood along School Street between Prospect & Proctor, before the Gloucester Fire Department and back of the library. The new sidewalks extend roughly .10 mile each side. Expect some road closure to cars and no parking through May 10th. I’ll post Before/After pictures when the work’s complete.
In the meantime, here is a completed Before/After sequence- the evolution of the Duncan Street sidewalk and road repairs September-October 2018.
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Another Gloucester DPW project began last week along RT 127, near Wolf Hill, at Days Pond. The fence and wall have been damaged over the years from simple wear and tear, and even automobile accidents. “A recent one took it from more than just an eyesore to potentially dangerous,” Mike Hale explained. The wall is being replaced and raised. The crew will be there a couple of weeks this December to complete all that is doable in winter, and return in the spring to finish the job. Since the crew began the pond has frozen over and thawed. Note the stone work.
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Beautiful build by Gloucester DPW to Good Harbor Beach is seeing steady use. The new pedestrian bridge spanning the marsh little river makes it easy to linger over a sweeping November vista to Good Harbor Beach and back.
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Prior posts on Good Morning Gloucester about the marsh walkway under construction.
Walk this way! Part 1- Pilings In, Guardrails Gone!
A new mini marsh promenade is underway along Thatcher Road from Gloucester’s Good Harbor Beach entrance all the way around to the foot bridge. Walkers will have safe access via sidewalks and a natural path.
Gloucester has been planning for an opportunity to extend safer pedestrian access along Thatcher Road for years. When National Grid scheduled replacing antiquated gas lines along the busiest and scenic stretch, Gloucester Public Works was ready to seize the opportunity with collaborative solutions sensitive to conservation. Sidewalk upgrades were built out at both ends and paused until National Grid completed its underground infrastructure work. Prior to paving, Thatcher Road will be widened slightly to accommodate a safe and scenic path. The city hoped to complete repairs and paving by autumn and is on track to meet that goal. This week crews were clearing brush. The rusty guardrail was removed and will be replaced with a new design. “It will all happen quickly now,” says Mike Hale, director of Public Works.
Thatcher Road Under Construction
There’s an ideal and creative scenic overlook solution over the river that’s under construction off site. I can’t wait for the reveal! I have been documenting progress and will post various updates, fast stats and history as another impressive project moves along.
Gloucester’s great marsh walk will afford safer access for sweeping seasonal observation
winter, spring, summer, fall
One of my favorite Gloucester motifs, Gloucester oxbow, view from Thatcher Road
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City of Gloucester officials are working towards a Phase 3 for the Haskell Pond Dam reconstruction which I wrote about last week (Part 1). I included information about the original monumental build. In response, Bruce Roberts was kind enough to share these amazing photographs of the impressive crews at the Haskell Pond construction site 1901. Bonus: they were annotated by his grandfather in 1958. West Gloucester families may recognize a surname or two, maybe a family resemblance. Please help ID if you can.
Bruce Roberts explains: “My grandfather, Edward F. Roberts, identified the individuals back in 1958. There are some folks he didn’t recognize, since he would have been pretty young when these images were taken. The first picture has the most identified individuals. One thing that has always been remarkable to me in the second image is how much Chester Andrews, my g-grandfather, resembled my father, Eugene Roberts, at that age.”
HASKELL’S POND CONSTRUCTION ca.1901-02 – (Individuals ID’d by Edward Roberts in 1958)
Photo 1, Dec 1901 (in snow): “Wood Choppers at Haskell’s Pond, December 1901” Front Row, L-R: 1. Otis Lufkin, 2. Matt Poland, 3. Loren (sp?) Harris, 4. Melvin Wilkins, 5. Jim White
Back Row: 1.Asa Sargent, 2. unknown, 3. Ed Lufkin, 4. James Chadbourne, 5. Joseph Abbott, 6. unknown, 7. Joshua Roberts, 8 & 9. unknown
Last month I was fortunate to glimpse the impressive Haskell’s Pond Dam reconstruction orchestrated by Gloucester’s Department of Public Works (DPW). Protecting and managing water utilities can be easy to take for granted. “This not so sleepy dam by Rt. 128 continues to deliver almost 30% of the city’s water,” exclaimed Larry Durkin, City Environmental Engineer. He explained that years ago the DPW team began assessing the city’s water infrastructure and compliance requirements including what would happen during an event storm. Haskell’s Pond Dam needed attention: The reconstruction was projected to cost 2 million (based on the preliminary plans and the recent Babson Reservoir repair). Phase I and II were contracted out to SumCo Eco Contracting and the estimates were correct. The project cost two million and the work is largely completed thanks to grants and loans from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA), and the Commonwealth’s Dam and Seawall Program. DPW Director, Mike Hale, and Larry Durkin concur: “They are fabulous to work with.” Discovery was anticipated. While drilling it was determined that the Haskell Pond Dam was indeed not structurally stable, and a MAJOR fix would be required to bring the dam into compliance. The DPW team is working with the state to fund the critical work of Phase 3.
Until then, take time to enjoy its history. While checking out the 2018 progress, I pulled stories and stats from the Haskell’s Pond Dam original build In 1902. As with today, the dam work was regarded a model project. State assistance and contracted elements were required then, too. The numerous links among these two century projects are a fascinating delve and described below. The evolving breaking news in 1902 kicked off with a bang, surprising lawsuits (next stop for one could be Supreme Court), and deft leadership. Readers and history buffs will recognize names. (Tarr ancestors were involved; were yours?)
Scope for Phase 1 & 2: Construction of a new concrete spillway chute, concrete repairs, clearing of trees and unwanted vegetation and valve replacement at an earthen embankment dam within the City’s active water supply system, and more (A prior $175,000 grant from the state’s Dam and Seawall Program was awarded to support “engineering, permitting and the development of construction documents” which established scope for Phase 1)
Contractor: SumCo Eco Contracting, Status: largely completed Mayor: Mayor Romeo Theken DPW Director: Mike Hale City Environmental Engineer: Lawrence A. Durkin, P.E. Project start (historic): 1902 Modern project start: 2013-18; RFP for Phase I issued: March 15, 2017 Total project cost: estimated to be $7 million Funding Awarded to date: $1,925,000
from State:$1,925,000 – The City has done very well with Grants and Loans from the MA Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA), and its Dam and Seawall Program, Mike Hale and Larry Durkin concur. “They are fabulous to work with.”
Design & permitting grant FY 2016
Haskell Phase 1 Construction Grant FY 2017
Closed 6/30/17 and City reimbursed
Haskell Phase 1 Construction Loan FY 2018
Submission by DPW to EEA 7/26/18 for reimbursement
Haskell Phase 2 Construction Grant FY 2018 (Applied to Phase 1 change orders)
Submission by DPW to EEA 7/26/18 for reimbursement
Submission by DPW to EEA 7/26/18 for reimbursement
Haskell Phase 2 Full FY 2019 Grant, to be applied to Phase 3
to be realized if Phase 3 goes forward in FY 2019
EEA Total to date
Phase 3: Some future phase was anticipated, though obviously impossible to nail down until Phase 1 & 2 were completed. The reconstruction was based on discovery put into works five or more years ago as Durkin and DPW team assessed city’s watersheds. The dam has been deemed unstable and will require a major fix to be compliant. According to Durkin, the scope for Phase 3 will include “a secant concrete wall to be drilled and concrete along the dam crest for its entire length, cored in the bedrock beneath dam for structural stability and a concrete parapet wall tied into the secant wall that provides the necessary containment for the maximum storm as defined by the state” and some exicting ancillary projects I’ll write more about in a future update. Phase 3 is estimated to cost 5 million and DPW is working on grants with the state to ensure that it happens.
Location(s): West Gloucester Priority: Mayor Romeo Theken’s Office-City consider water highest priority – this one continues to provide 1/3 of the city’s water
Reviewing the ordeal that was constructing the dam– one hundred and six years ago –is a fascinating read, and helped me appreciate the major job it’s been in 2018. The original dam construction was contentious and hence the top news story of 1902 and years prior. While researching its beginnings, I was struck by just how many areas of concern and themes of city governance from 1902 remain relevant in 2018. Here’s a short list: the financial condition of the city (“revaluation”), suitable allocations, considering work on Rogers Street, water costs, heroic solo sails, possible steel bridge over Annisquam, Burnham Field play ground, pros and cons of tourism, disagreement over what is considered sound development, new theater on Main Street, announcing state grants, eminent domain, boundary lines, Gloucester Fresh, cut bridge in bad condition, aiming to keep work in town when possible, Stage Fort Park tributes, environmentally friendly innovations, sustainability, access and oodles of local politics- Office of Mayor and City Council, city staff, committees, and commissions.
The excerpts below pertain to Haskell’s pond dam from 1902 Gloucester Daily Times archives that I pulled from reels at Sawyer Free and transcribed for easy access. Plans and maps are courtesy of Mike Hale and the Department Public Work team. Links to high resolution versions are provided at the end of the post.
January 4, 1902 – MAYOR FRENCH LOSES: Aldermen Vote to Exonerate Water Commissioners
Saturday May 6, 2017 is the official ribbon cutting re-opening of Stacy Boulevard by Mayor Romeo Theken. Thanks to the Mayor, Mike Hale and all Gloucester DPW, GZA, Essex County Landscape Assoc, Gloucester Community Preservation Act, Ann Giraldi Johnson, GFWA, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and groups like the Seaport Economic Council and Dir Carolyn Kirk, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Joe Lucido, Ed Parks, Mike Linquata, Donna Ardizzoni and One Hour at a Time Gang, Ringo Tarr, Bobbie Turner, YMCA and summer help, Wolf Hill, Generous Gardeners, and other volunteers!
Tulip Festival and bonnet parade Saturday 10AM
Ribbon Cutting 11:30AM
Party at Mile Marker Restaurant 6-10PM
Enjoy a closer look at the engineering and landscape plans for the expanded gardens and before/after comparisons.
Earlier posts outline the engineering. The photograph above details the subgrade that was re-established for irrigation (note ditch alongside walkway), loam and sod. The photo also emphasizes the lengthy short wall on the right which was removed for access during construction. “The excavation was deep enough that the angle of repose was into the old wall.” The wall in the photo is rebuilt.
Spacing and symmetry were important design considerations for Stacy Boulevard construction. The old benches were surveyed. Most were returned relative to where they were sited before the build out. The memorial benches on the boulevard are full. This one shows a tribute to Al Swelka.
Photos Nov-Dec 2016. Video caption: Stacy Boulevard construction minute – stroll before January, and sod. Upcoming posts in this Stacy Boulevard series include: disasters, the cultural landscape, and Blynman.
Contractor:Newport, Nashua, NH, Brian McCabe is the Project Manager Status: in progress Progress April 2017: nearing finish line Project start (historic): pre 1900 Modern project start: 1999 Funding Awarded: 2013
from State:$5,600,000 Seaport Advisory Council
from City:$1,120,000 + contingencies
Funding in place: 2015
Gloucester seawall grants over the last 18 years include: Cripple cove/ Robinsons landing; small sea wall by beacon marine and pirates lane; fort square; Stacy (Stage Fort through Blynman); plus emergency work on Blynman collapse
Bid Open and contract amount: 2/24/15 approx $7 million Contract completion: on schedule, estimated spring 2017 Locations: Stacy Boulevard and Blynman Priority:Top Level! Unique and exceptional project– Mayor’s Office considers seawall boulevard a priority necessity, for safety, a centuries infrastructure project with immeasurable quality of life benefits for residents and visitors and essential to economy Temporary work site chain link fence: Required. The chain link fence is installed by the contractor to protect the work zone and define it better. Tender house at Blynman and bridge: These are State not city/DPW purview. The new bridge house is temporary (thankfully). The entire bridge needs to be replaced and when it is a new tender’s house will be constructed. I will write more about the bridge house and Blynman in other posts. Local jobs– scroll below
photo above: fencing subcontractor on a beautiful work site readying for railing. Railing required diamond coring like old granite quarrying. Stacy Boulevard December 2016.
photo caption: Railing! 2000 feet of new galvanized railing. (The replaced railing was not galvanized. DPW replaces railing: it’s simply a matter of funding.)
photo caption: Alex Karp – GZA Field Engineer Boulevard construction. The GZA company acquired (David) Vine Associates. GZA is the design engineer for the boulevard project. David Smith at GZA (formerly Vine) has worked with Gloucester since 1999.
photo caption: Gloucester’s DPW construction along the Boulevard
photo caption: CAP STONE! It’s more than decorative. It has two exposed sides that need to be trimmed to look perfect. Mike Hale, Boulevard construction, November (of course note beard) 2016
photo caption: Stacy Boulevard contruction capstone and harbor
photo CAPtion!: Stacy Boulevard dazzling dizzying scope of ocean and capstone as far as the eye can see
photo caption: Mike Hale with Brian McCabe, Project Manager, Newport construction, November 2016, Gloucester Boulevard
Along with the Mayor’s office and current administration, Gloucester’s DPW and Newport Construction work with subcontractors including local ones such as:
GZA – national with corporate headquarters in Norwood, MA – Engineering
Anne Gilardi Johnson – additional new gardens, site and landscape design for the Boulevard (building upon the successful Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Memorial)– Johnson , a Gloucester native and multi award winning landscape architect, was commissioned by the Fishermen’s Wive Memorial board back in 2000 to design the landscape for Morgan Faulds Pike bronze sculpture, dedicated August 2001. “A series of design plans, and finally a study model, was produced as part of an interactive process between the designer, sculptor, and the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association.” Johnson is a member of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (largest chapter of the national organization), “known for her design of urban spaces including parks, playgrounds, memorials and streetscapes in Boston,” Worcester, and Gloucester. Her award winning designs include Boston’s (James) Hayes and Childe Hassam Parks in the South End. Generous Gardeners is planting the new beds on the Boulevard: thousands of tulip and daffodil bulbs were planted by many volunteers last fall to bloom this spring!
Here are the original 1922 and 1923 plans from the Gloucester DPW archives for close inspection:
The Gloucester Daily Times published a construction status for the Western Avenue Project on June 5, 1923. Necessary delays were explained and some of the work would not be ready for Gloucester’s tercentenary celebration. The column indicates that the bridge house would be moved across the street–which didn’t happen then, but is happening in 2017– and mentions the state’s involvement.
“Work on Sea Wall Completed”- June 5 1923 update
Work on the construction of the new Western avenue seawall as far as the state is concerned, is practically completed and the lighters which for several months past have afforded great interest in many spectators have been withdrawn from the job…
On the western end of the park, the wall which held up the little park known as Marine Park is being capped with a four-foot cement topping, to bring it level to and joined with the new wall just completed from that point easterly toward Morgan’s store.
Although hopes had been held out that the entire boulevard could be completed in time for the celebration, doubts are expressed now if this can be brought to a conclusion because of the large amount of work to be done, such as filling in behind the wall just erected, and the laying out of the street. Before the street can be laid out, time must be allowed for the settling of the rock filling, thousands of tons of which are to be dumped behind the wall, and this, it is now believed by those in charge, will not be ready for surfacing until spring (1924) at the least.
The bridge-house and the small shed alongside of it are scheduled to be moved to the other side of the street so that an unobstructed view of the boulevard from The Tavern to…“
This view will be changing imminently! Today’s Motif Monday is the work on the Boulevard.
The marvelous engineering and construction for the boulevard is a HUGE story. In all the collective excitement to walk this way, let’s remember to take a moment to acknowledge this feat.
Mike Hale, Gloucester’s Director of Public Services, was hired in July of 1999, the very same year that this ambitious boulevard infrastructure planning and funding search began for this project. It was funded in 2014. That means the current project timeline spanned 4 Mayors, administration, staff and city councils. The construction has been exceptionally well managed and I predict it will be or should be nationally recognized with awards. I have been documenting the progress and in the coming days will post several tributes, contemporary views, historic photos and background to rev up anticipation and respect.
Coincidentally, April 16, 2017 will mark the 94th anniversary of an important piece of the boulevard’s construction.
On that day in history, Gloucester’s city council approved the purchase of two lots, the Grant and Low properties:
“Whereas it is the desire of the board of park commissioners of the city of Gloucester to take in fee by purchase or otherwise certain land in said Gloucester lying between Western Avenue and the sea,
“And whereas, the said board has estimated the expenses of acquiring the same to be $8000,
“It is hereby ordered that the sum of $8000 be and hereby is appropriated from the $90,000 Western Avenue act of 1922 to the board of park commissioners as provided by law for the purpose of acquiring and laying out as a public park such land as the said board of park commissioners consider desirable therefore, being the land as shown on a plan entitled ‘Proposed taking for highway and park purposes, Gloucester, Mass, dated April 16, 1923, John H. Griffin, City Engineer,’ having reference to that portion as shown on said plan as is proposed to be taken for park purposes.” I’ve added the bold emphasis to note the big vision of Western Avenue as a public park and extension of Stage Fort in 1923.
The significant original investment was tangible and long lasting, hallmarks of any successful public works project. Did the Boulevard improve the quality of life in Gloucester? It wasn’t easy. Houses and roads were moved.
Photo caption: “A VIEW NOW OF THE PAST. Most of us are familiar with the Above View. it Shows the Dwellings which Once Lined the Western Avenue Waterfront Before Work was Started Constructing the New Boulevard.”
These photographs were published in August 1923 and retrieved from the Gloucester Daily Times microfiche reel at Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library.
The caption below describes Kent Circle “where grand stand has been erected for the review of the parades” for Gloucester’s tercentenary celebration.
Awaiting full access in 2017 is a mere blip of an inconvenience when considering how fundamental the Boulevard is for Gloucester. Its benefits are priceless.