Gloucester's Greasy Pole won't be down for long.
After receiving an OK from the city's Conservation Commission last week, St. Peter's Fiesta Committee President Joseph Novello said Friday the project will start within 10 days, less than a month after the pole platform collapsed into the harbor Sept. 30.
Novello said he expects work on the pole platform to wrap up by Thanksgiving — and that's work, Novello says that his committee will fund through private donations only.
"We don't want to put a burden on city agencies," he said. "We're going to work hard."
He said several local businesses, function halls and residents have all stepped forward pledging to help the committee restore one of the St. Peter's fiesta's crown jewels. The pole, a focal point of Fiesta's athletic competitions, toppled sometime near daybreak a week ago Friday under the pressure of relatively heavy winds and high tides.
Putting it back up won't be cheap. Novello said the project will cost the committee an estimated $85,000.
The re-constructed dock, he said, will be made of 10 fiberglass pilings — pilings, he added, with a projected 100-year lifespan.
The construction will be carried out by Marston Marine of Gloucester. Norris "Tiger" Marston heads the company, which drives pilings for marine construction.
The committee had already hired the company to carry out $45,000 worth of repairs on the pole and the dock, which had been damaged and weakened by tropical Storm Irene, but the structure toppled before Marston could start on that project.
Hours after the pole toppled over, Mayor Carolyn Kirk said money wouldn't get in the way of rebuilding the pier.
Friday, however, City Auditor Kenneth Costa said the city can't put any funds toward the project unless it owns the structure.
"If the city doesn't own the pole," he said. "We can't contribute to it."
City Councilor Bruce Tobey said earlier this week that the city might in fact own the property, essentially by default.
He recalled that, as mayor, he received a letter from the state requesting the city obtain a Chapter 91 permit for the Greasy Pole platform as the "owner" of the actual dock and pole. The city, however, never took out such a permit, and the issue was apparently never resolved.
Gaspar "Gap" Lafata, a former Fiesta Committee member, said he believes the committee owns the dock. He said the committee repaired the structure after a Sunoco barge struck it and leveled it in the 1970s, while the committee also replaced the pole with donated telephone poles.
He added that the platform was built in the 1930s in roughly the same spot — though no one measured out how far off the beach it was at the time.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.