The Municipality of Chester sided against immediately replacing the Backman's Cove wharf after the best-scoring and most qualified bid was more than double the budget allocated for the work.
In recent weeks, civic politicians opted instead to gauge the views of the Aspotogan area citizens as to what they would want.
"We own the wharf; we were just going to fix it," Allen Webber, the municipality's warden, explained to his council colleagues recently. "But, I think, what's really needed is a little discussion with the community about what are their needs there."
During a brief discussion, council wondered if kayaking and swimming may be more of what is coveted in terms of recreational activity access to the ocean off the municipally-owned Highway 329 property.
Last spring, council authorized the tearing down and removal of the existing structure and concrete deck, and establishing "a new, similar wharf" consisting of a new timber crib and concrete deck on the same site.
The municipality will "tear it out, but we're not going to build anything new until we figure that out," Webber said, alluding to the public's wishes concerning the matter.
In a written report to council, Greg Jonah, an engineering technician with the municipality, pegged the "in-house" cost of removing the existing wharf and shoreline stabilization in the $118,000 range, including engineering expenses. A similar internal estimate of replacing the wharf would be in the $134,000 range but would be phased-in and involve several steps before completion. Both options are below the $150,00 capital budget earmarked for the project.
The municipality received two responses to the wharf replacement procurement issued last summer. Council voted to reject both bids. Councillor André Veinotte declared a conflict-of-interest and was not involved in the discussion concerning the matter nor the vote.
Details surrounding only one of the bids was made public. Engineering staff deemed the Bedford-based Dexter Construction bid possessed the best valued and scored submission, which valued at nearly $353,000.
An engineering assessment in 2019 determined the existing five-by-eight-metre wharf, likely built in the 1960s, reached the end of its lifespan.
In a previous report to council, Jonah said the wharf was unsafe for vehicles' use based on its condition.
"We do not believe there is an immediate safety concern for users of the wharf in its current condition," Jonah's report at the time indicated. "Repairs are necessary, however, as without repairs this site will become a safety concern in the very near future."
"Although the driveway, concrete deck and wheel guard, and some of the timbers are in relatively good condition, the underlying timber crib support sub-structure is in poor condition. The wharf is therefore considered to be in poor condition overall," the report added.
The municipality also owns public wharves in communities such as the Village of Chester and Chester Basin.