Bill for new Stevenson marina increasingThe Army Corps of Engineers says a new marina being built on one of the premier fisheries in the Upper Midwest is likely to cost more than the $10 million dedicated to the project two years ago, though how much more is not yet known.
By: By Blake Nicholson, The Associated Press , The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — The Army Corps of Engineers says a new marina being built on one of the premier fisheries in the Upper Midwest is likely to cost more than the $10 million dedicated to the project two years ago, though how much more is not yet known.
A corps official says federal economic stimulus money might be one way to cover the rising cost of the marina on Lake Sakakawea, a Missouri River reservoir and North Dakota’s largest lake.
Meanwhile, state officials are advertising for someone to run the new marina at Fort Stevenson State Park — and possibly the old one, which has been idled for seven years.
If the lake rises as much as expected this summer, it likely will be high enough for both marinas to operate, provided construction wraps up on the new one, said Park Manager Dick Messerly. Work last year was dogged by water flowing into the construction site when rain pushed the lake level up 17 feet.
“It’s been somewhat of a frustrating project,” Messerly said. “We were actually expecting it to be done (last) September.”
Because the work could not finish last fall, it had to continue during one of the harshest North Dakota winters in recent memory. That pushed the cost higher than expected, said Steve Graf, a project manager for the corps.
“We’re trying to get the remaining work done in the cold and the snow,” said Graf, who traveled from Omaha, Neb., to the marina site earlier this month, after a new contractor was hired.
The corps in mid-January fired southwestern North Dakota-based Martin Construction Inc., saying the project was more than four months behind schedule and was only 70 percent finished.
Martin Construction, which said problems were the result of corps design flaws in a cofferdam, is fighting the way the corps handled the termination of the $7 million contract and trying to collect $3.5 million for work it completed.
Pennsylvania-based Weston Solutions is now working at the site near Garrison, under a contract worth about $2 million. Graf said the contract is for only some of the work that was to be completed by Martin, and the total bill for that work is likely to exceed the $7 million initial contract.
Graf said the corps is looking at ways to pay the higher cost, including the economic stimulus package.
The state Parks and Recreation Department, which leases the Fort Stevenson State Park site from the corps, is not contributing any money to marina construction. The agency is responsible for finding someone to run the convenience store-restaurant and the dock operation. Proposals are being accepted until March 16.
“There’s been a lot of interest,” Parks spokesman Gordon Weixel said.
Messerly said someone also is likely to be needed to run the old marina, which dried up in 2002 when Lake Sakakawea hit record-low levels because of prolonged drought in the Missouri River Basin. The old marina, which has a floor at 1,822 feet, had not been fully operational for two years before it was shut down, Messerly said.
Last year, the lake rose to 1,826 feet. This summer it is projected to rise to 1,830 feet, which would make the old marina accessible and would be well above the floor of the new marina, which is at 1,790 feet, Messerly said.
“We’ll have two marinas that will be usable,” he said. “We’re not sure which one will be ready to use in the spring.”