The Herald News, Saturday, March 11, 2017 – Page A1

By Kevin P. O’Connor

Fall River – Biszko Contracting Corp. won a $3.74 million bid to begin renovations at the City Pier to prepare the land for development.

The city’s Redevelopment Authority awarded the contract to the company at its meeting Wednesday.

“We had 15 bids on the project,” said Ken Fiola, the executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development, which works with the authority. “Two of the 15 bids received came in within the proposed budget for the project.” Biszko won the job after Pare Corp., the consulting engineers on the project, determined that the company bid met all the criteria set out by the authority, Fiola said.

The project calls for Biszko to drive steel sheet piling into the seabed around the pier to support the granite seawalls constructed when the pier was built a century ago.

Contractors will then lay underground utilities and then cap the pier with crushed stone to encapsulate the polychlorinated biphenyls that were discovered on the pier 15 years ago.

“We anticipate this project will move forward sometime in the May to June time frame,” Fiola said. “We have to expend the first $1 million from the Seaport Economic Council by June 30. We’ll do that with the purchase of the steel.”

The City Pier is 4.5 acres of land that the city took by eminent domain in the mid-1980s with plans for development as a hotel.

Those plans fell through. Developing the site became more expensive with the discovery of PCBs in the soil in 2002. PCB is an oil that was used as a coolant in electrical transformers. It was also often spread on dirt roads in the 1940s and 1950s to control dust. It is a known cancercausing agent.

The contaminated soil was scraped away. The land can be used if the soil is capped. That will be accomplished with this contract, Fiola said.

The city plans to make the land available for use as a marina.

“We hope to have it fully permitted for a marina by the end of the year,” he said. “It might be marketable for private development then.”

Biszko Contracting, 20

Development St., has been involved in several public projects locally. Its most recent was the construction of the boat launch at the Somerset Village Waterfront Park.

Whether the land of the City Pier will eventually be sold or leased to a private developer is still undecided, Fiola said.

The project is being financed through several agencies.

The Seaport Economic Council provided a $1 million construction grant, the MassWorks program $1.6 million, MassDevelopment $600,000 and $914,000 from the Redevelopment Authority.

“If the property is sold to the developer, we might have to repay the MassWorks grant of $1.6 million,” Fiola said. “So we will have to determine if we would sell the land or lease it.”

The hope is to have the initial construction work completed and the permits in place before the end of 2017 so the authority can advertise for developers to offer proposals for the property.

“We’ve been dealing with this for close to 15 years,” Fiola said. “It would be nice to see it done.”