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Haddad boat dock work to start soon

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Work on the long-awaited floating boat dock at Haddad Riverfront Park should start early next month, with a couple of upgrades approved Monday by Charleston City Council.

Council members approved a $35,575 change order to the $525,600 contract Amherst Madison won in June.

The dock, designed for small private boats, will extend almost 500 feet west from the end of the Schoenbaum Stage to the Court Street overlook. It is designed to ride up and down, tethered to 13 10-inch-diameter steel piles, with a hinged handicap-accessible ramp at the stage end.

To make room for the dock, an existing 200-foot concrete pier will be torn out, City Engineer Chris Knox said. The dock, known as the lower wharf, dates back to construction of Haddad Park in the 1980s.

The concrete pier is scheduled for demolition "as soon as the Rod Run car show is over," Knox said. "We were going to do it after the end of Live on the Levee but, because we get such a large turnout of boats for the car show, we decided to wait."

The 7th annual Rod Run and Doo Wop, based on Kanawha Boulevard, runs from Oct. 4 to Oct. 7.

The dock is being fabricated at a shop near Wheeling, Knox said. "They'll truck it in. It comes in pieces, 20-foot sections."

Construction should be done this fall, he said. "It's just a matter of driving the piling and attaching the dock to it."

The change order approved Monday will pay for electrical hookups -- nine lighthouse-style pedestals with four outlets each -- and decorative caps for the steel piles. The piles, embedded into bedrock beneath the river, will rise about 30 feet above water level to near street level, Knox said.

The dock, which was envisioned in the 2006 Sasaki Associates riverfront master plan, is the last piece of the Haddad Park improvements that include the canopy, stage, overlook and streetscape improvements.

In other business Monday, council members:

* Approved a $75,000 payment to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Matthew Walker, who hung himself by his sweatshirt drawstring after Charleston police arrested him in a domestic dispute. The settlement releases the city from all future claims, including those from Walker's three minor children, City Attorney Paul Ellis said.

Mayor Danny Jones asked Chief Brent Webster how police allowed Walker to hang himself. "Was somebody watching him? I don't want this to happen again."

Webster said police can't prevent such incidents. "We try." Police typically hold arrested suspects for less than an hour before taking them to a magistrate, he said.

* Agreed to hire GAI Consultants Inc. for engineering and design services on possible streetscape-type improvements to MacCorkle Avenue in Kanawha City. Under the $38,000 contract, GAI will follow up on a 2009 study by the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects, under its Livable Communities program.

The AIA suggested four main themes -- slowing traffic, making the area greener and more pedestrian friendly, and improving parking.

GAI will take that study to the next level, City Manager David Molgaard said. "It's to do some more detailed master planning and do some discrete projects, taking it not quite down to construction drawings but down to cost estimates and helping to identify sources of funding.

"The idea is to make the area more attractive, give it a sense of place," Molgaard said. 

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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