The Working Waterfront

Nine coastal communities win planning grants

Funds support harbor management, infrastructure and access

Tom Groening
Posted 2015-08-03
Last Modified 2015-08-03

The state’s Maine Coastal Program has awarded nine communities a total of $163,206 in grants covering planning, design and engineering work for a host of improvement projects, some conceptual, some ready to be built.

The work the funds support ranges from a longer pier on Islesford to a better managed beach in Portland. Each grant winner must provide at least 25 percent in matching funds or services.

The municipalities winning the grants are: Bath, Brunswick, Cranberry Isles, Cumberland, Frenchboro (Long Island), Ogunquit, Portland, Sedgwick and Wells.

In Bath, explained Melissa Anson, the coastal planner with the state office, the city won $10,000 to help develop a mix of uses for a vacant parcel of land now owned by the Maine Department of Transportation. The land, under the bridge that crosses the Kennebec River and know locally as the Guilford lot, will be purchased from the state, she said.

Plans call for using the parcel to improve access to a waterfront walkway and fishing pier. Charter fishing boats are the primary users of the pier, Anson said. The property also is home to Maine’s First Ship, a local nonprofit building a replica of the Virginia, the first ship built in Maine, and to the Bath Freight Shed, another nonprofit, and the local farmers market.

The city of Brunswick won $15,900 to explore its options for a public mooring field for resident boat owners who do not own shorefront land. The only option currently for residents is a private marina, Anson explained.

The town of The Cranberry Isles was awarded $30,000 to engineer and design a 40-foot extension for the Islesford (Little Cranberry Island) town dock, which is busy with boats and passengers and their luggage and freight during the summer. Extending the dock would make it “more accessible during different tides,” Anson said, and enhance safety and accessibility.

In Cumberland, the town landed $20,906 to design and engineer the replacement for its 200-foot long Payson Pier.

“This is a newly acquired coastal property for the town,” Anson said, which includes the pier, “and they’re looking to expand its uses.” The town purchased about 23 acres with 14 acres along the shore. Improved public access to a small tidal beach is one of the goals, as well as replacing the wooden pier, which she said was in “severe disrepair.”

Frenchboro, the island town off Mount Desert Island, won $20,000 to help it develop its first comprehensive plan. Before the town can complete the overall plan, it must create a harbor ordinance, and the funds will help the town do that planning work.

In Ogunquit, $20,000 will be used to design and engineer a replacement pedestrian bridge to provide safer access to Ogunquit Beach. The bridge crosses a saltwater marsh and links a parking lot with the popular beach, Anson said, but at 60-plus years old, it is in poor shape. The new bridge will be wide enough to accommodate an ambulance, she added.

Portland’s East End Beach is a busy spot, Anson said, with recreational paddle boat users and commercial users often competing for space. The $22,500 grant will pay for designing new floats and dockage for non-motorized watercraft and separate those uses.

“They’re over capacity there,” she said, and the new layout will alleviate congestion.

The Hancock County town of Sedgwick won $15,000 to create a plan for a new or improved town pier and a conceptual plan for parking, boat ramp and cargo loading and offloading, Anson said.

Wells, the town where the Moody Beach public access court battle played out, won $8,900 to research shorefront ownership through historical deeds and study possible implications for public access unity.

These awards mark the tenth round of the Shore and Harbor Planning Grant program. Since 2006, 68 grants have been awarded for a total of $930,155.

The Maine Coastal Program is part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.