While Put-in-Bay’s C dock has been open for the last two weekends, both A and C docks should be consistently open by Thursday, village leaders say. The project’s original completion goal was May 22.
PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — After an avalanche of poor weather repeatedly delayed a multimillion-dollar construction project on two of Put-in-Bay’s main docks, crews say the docks will be open to the public for the Fourth of July holiday.
The village of Put-in-Bay began the roughly $5.6 million overhaul of the docks in December, with plans to be finished by Memorial Day, the official start of South Bass Island’s tourist season.
PHOTO GALLERY: Put-in-Bay docks construction
Jennifer Blumensaadt, owner of Mossbacks Island Bar & Grille, speaks about the marina construction at Put-in-Bay. ‘We sat out on the corner to watch the traffic, and there wasn’t any,’ she said. ‘[The construction] has affected all of us.’
But one of the coldest winters in Ohio history forced the contractor, Hank’s Plumbing and Heating of Toledo, to revise the timeline, project manager Mike Nowakowski said.
“We got beaten up all winter, and we didn’t get a spring,” Mr. Nowakowski said. “Now we’re in summer, and Mother Nature just wants to throw lightning bolts at us.”
Built in the 1930s, the docks last underwent major construction in the early 1970s, said Jeff Koehler, a Village Council member and editor of the Put-in-Bay Gazette, and since then had only been lightly maintained. Seven years ago, the village began applying for permits and making other preparations to fix the docks, which, he said, were “falling into the lake.”
While business owners agreed that the project was necessary, restaurant and bar owners said sidewalk and road closings, in conjunction with the docks’ delayed reopening, had taken a toll on their business.
“We sat out on the corner to watch the traffic, and there wasn’t any,” said Jennifer Blumensaadt, owner of Mossbacks Island Bar and Grille. “[The construction] has affected all of us.”
Sales have been down about 15 percent at the Boardwalk Family of Restaurants, including The Keys, Hooligans, and Dairy Isle, owner Marv Booker said. Ms. Blumensaadt estimated a similar decline in her business, which is across the street from the Boardwalk.
Tip Niece, owner of Tipper’s Restaurant, said his sales have most likely been steady because Tipper’s is the only restaurant on the island that is open year-round. Sales at the carry-out he owns next door, however, have fallen 10 percent, he said.
A and C docks, owned by the village of Put-in-Bay, and B dock, owned by DeRivera Park, typically dock about 25 percent of the boats coming to the island.
Marv Booker, owner of the Boardwalk Family of Restaurants, including The Keys, Hooligans, and Dairy Isle, says sales have been down about 15 percent this summer as dock construction continues.
Although B dock has been open during the construction on A and C docks, Tom Ohlemacher, B dock’s dock master, said business at B dock has fallen about 20 percent because many are under the impression that dock is closed too.
Doug Nusser, project administrator at Poggemeyer Design Group, said the docks hold about 205 boats. The several thousand-foot long docks, which jut out from the north side of the island, can have boats tied off one another four to five boats deep on a busy weekend.
Despite the winter and recent thunderstorms, Mr. Nowakowski said work on the docks has progressed steadily, if slowly.
Nearly three dozen men are at the site working 70 to 80 hours each week.
Even in winter, 12 to 16 men worked 40 to 60 hours a week in subzero temperatures, cutting through the ice from Catawba Island to Put-in-Bay to get materials to the docks.
Although the winter prevented workers from getting cribbing and other construction materials across the ice until April, the village was able to open C dock in time for Memorial Day weekend before resuming work on the dock after the holiday.
Mr. Nusser said the project’s original completion date was May 22. The last agreed-upon completion date was June 27, he said, but Hank’s requested an additional extension.
Village leaders said it’s unknown if penalties will be levied because of the construction delays.
While C dock has been open for the last two weekends, both A and C docks should be consistently open by Thursday, Mr. Nusser said.
Boats fill B dock as work is done on A and C docks. The area is getting new water, electric, and walking/docking structures.
Mr. Nowakowski said his company will need more time to address one of A dock’s two finger docks, but anticipated that A dock’s water and electricity, and one of C dock’s three finger docks, would be ready for holiday boaters on Friday.
The village has held several public meetings about the project, and leaders have met once a week to discuss progress.
Mr. Ohlemacher and village administrators said they were looking forward to the final product: according to Mr. Nowakowski, a five-star marina — with new water, electric, and walking/docking structures — strong enough to endure the next 100 years.
“The weather hasn’t helped any,” Mr. Ohlemacher said. “But [the docks] are well worth waiting for.”
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