May 25, 2022

Miller predicts new Essex boat ramp to be finished by year’s end

The big machines building a small town boat ramp

The new boat ramp under construction at the foot of Main Street in Essex will be finished by the end of this year, according to Essex First Selectman Phillip Miller. Miller is extra sensitive about the $200,000 project, because both he and the town’s Public Works Director David Caroline were “denounced” that the state-funded* project was a boondoggle and would never be completed.

Miller, a Democrat, said that in the next election, “The Republicans are already planning to make the failed boat launch project a campaign issue.” However, Miller said that “a supposedly doomed STEAP project has risen from the ashes, as David and I predicted.”

Essex First Selectman Phil Miller

The First Selectman said in a written statement, “The contractor worked into darkness on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday [Dec. 16, 17, 18 and 19]. It is more than half complete to our satisfaction, and our engineer inspected it on Friday and will do so again today [Dec. 20].”

“In hindsight,” Miller said, “for us to have expected that this job could be done without constructing a cofferdam to hold back the Connecticut River was completely unrealistic. When we were down in the hole lining up the concrete, even at low tide the river was over my head. This morning they were securely working in the midst of a very high tide, and they were high and dry.”

According to Miller only $143,000 of the grant will be spent for the new boat ramp, including the cofferdam. The remaining $57,000 of the grant will be spent on improvement projects on Novelty Lane.

“To all the glooming predictions and false accusations, I say that performance speaks for itself,” Miller said in a statement. “We’ll end up with a quality project done properly to our satisfaction, under budget albeit two-and-a-half months late, and so be it.”  

Miller acknowledged that ultimately the project will not be “a large scale boat launch.” He anticipates that most boats in the area will continue to use the state boat launch in Old Saybrook. However, the First Selectman anticipates that there will be some small boat usage of the new launch, and that it will also serve an at-the-ready facility for the town’s emergency vessels.

One factor that will militate against frequent private use of the new boat launch is that after launching a vessel in Essex there are very few places to park the car that brought the boat. The state boat launch in Old Saybrook of course has a large parking area.

* An earlier version of this article said that STEAP grants were a federal program. This was not correct, they are a state program that grants monies to small towns in Connecticut.