ESSEX — The Memorial Building site on Martin Street will be completely cleared out by the end of the season.

“We expect the project will be completed sometime over the winter,” said Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki, “except for the loaming and seeding which requires warmer weather.”

The site, once home to the Memorial Building which housed the town’s police and fire departments, will be transformed into an open grassy field. This week, contractors with Encore Contracting Services started working on site grading.

“It looks completely different than it did even on Monday,” Zubricki said Wednesday afternoon. “The site grading is now is looking more like what it’ll be once the project is finished.”

On Monday, selectmen approved three change orders for the project. Contractors billed the town $1,582 for additional site identification and diagnostic work.

“When the contractor removed the foundation and footings from the old building, we discovered a storm drain line connecting other storm drains in neighborhood to the pipe that serves as the main outfall,” said Zubricki. “We discovered that that particular link was integral to the foundations and footing of the old building so there was really no way to take those out without interrupting that drain line.”

Another $20,273 was needed to connect the site’s draining system to this recently discovered network. The work requires enlarging a concrete slab the town plans on installing near where the modular trailer that housed the police chief and harbormaster’s office once stood, which Encore pegged at $6,274.

“The architect initially estimated the (site restoration) project would cost $220,000,” explained Zubricki. “The bid Encore submitted was $185,000. With these change orders, the project is up to $214,000, which is still under the original estimate. The money was included in the overall approval for the (new Public Safety building project on John Wise Avenue) although it’s a separate contract with a separate contractor. We are still on budget for project.”

The concrete slab will serve as the foundation for a 16- by 30-foot viewing shed, which will house the town’s 1882 hand tub fire engine, “We Will Try.” At their Monday meeting, selectmen approved the purchase of the shed from New England Outdoor Sheds & Gazebos using a $46,370 Community Preservation Fund grant.

“We have just ordered it this week,” said Zubricki. “We don’t have final paperwork on the order itself.”

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or

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