Giant Blount ‘tent’ rises along Warren River

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photoWorkers at Blount Boats have started installing a large tent-like building along the Warren River that they say will help keep the company competitive and building boats for years to come.

More than a year after the Town of Warren approved its construction, the 44’ tall by 150’ long tent ’s frame started rising on Monday. Company treasurer Marcia Blount said work should be done in about nine days — “not bad,” she said, touring the construction site on a sunny Thursday afternoon.

The tent has been a long time coming. Blount officials realized a few years ago that they would need a tent structure on their boat-launching ways to comply with federal regulations while they finish and paint boat superstructures just prior to launching. After the town approved the project, the state Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) issued an assent, allowing construction to go forward.

The structure is being built in three sections: One anchored to footings at the eastern edge of the ways, with two others to the west that can be moved to lengthen or shorten the overall structure. Its fabric covering can be removed in times of storms, Ms. Blount said. The tent was manufactured by Big Top Manufacturing of Perry, Fla., a town of about 7,000 on Florida’s northern Gulf Coast. Officials from the company have been in Warren since last week to oversee installation.

Though the tent signals a new future for the long-time commercial boat builder, pre-construction revealed a bit of old Warren. When workers started digging trenches to lay the structure’s concrete footings over the winter, they uncovered thick, thick layers — four feet thick or more — of oyster shells; remnants, all, of the property’s former life as the epicenter of Warren’s once booming oyster industry.

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