STONINGTON — There’s good news from Augusta for two Downeast towns.
Last week, the Land for Maine’s Future Board announced funding for six projects that will help protect and sustain the state’s dwindling working waterfront resources. Two of the projects are in eastern Maine.
The Stonington Lobster Co-op has received a preliminary allocation of $216,250 from the program to conduct site work at its facility at 51 Indian Point Road (Co-op I) that will improve its capacity for shipping and receiving lobsters and bait. The co-op’s plans include construction of a 2,000-square-foot wharf that will allow boats to unload light gear and provide 12 additional badly needed parking spaces.
The site currently supports 40 boats that harvest lobster and scallops. The expansion also will allow the co-op to provide additional shoreside resources for aquaculture operations.
Up the road in Washington County, the town of Jonesport has received a preliminary allocation of $118,750 that will be used for site design and engineering, access road and parking development and installation of a boat ramp and two floats at Henry’s Point on the eastern shore of Sawyer Cove.
Currently the location of a campground, the redeveloped site will continue to support recreational activity, but its development as a commercial site will relieve pressure on a nearby state-owned marina. The marina provides the only public boat access in Jonesport, which the Department of Marine Resources says is home to some 500 commercial fishermen.
The Maine Working Waterfront Access Protection Program makes funds available to purchase development rights through a legally binding agreement between the state and working waterfront owners that will ensure that the property remains available to support commercial fishing or aquaculture activities.
In recent years, large sections of Maine’s coastal waterfront have changed from undeveloped land, or converted from commercial to residential usage, and are no longer available to the state’s maritime industries.
In addition to the Stonington Co-op and Jonesport, the program announced grants to projects east of Casco Bay.
The Spruce Head Fisherman’s Co-op in South Thomaston will use the $276,000 allocated by the board to pay off a loan used to purchase adjacent property that will be used to expand parking and storage for the co-op’s 54 members. The co-op will then refinance the property and use the money to install a bait freezer, which will help the members address potential bait shortages.
Wotton’s Lobster Wharf in New Harbor plans to use a preliminary allocation totalling $68,750 awarded by the LMF Board to install an above ground fuel tank, additional bait storage, and a new float with lobster crate storage in New Harbor. The facility is currently used year-round by four lobster and bluefin tuna fishing boats. The planned improvements could double the wharf’s capacity.
A preliminary allocation of $301,500 given to the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation will be used for the demolition and reconstruction of Carter’s Wharf in Boothbay Harbor. The wharf is home to 30 lobster boats and a lobster buying station run by Luke’s Lobster. The new wharf could potentially serve an additional 10-15 vessels as well as aquaculture operations, and allow the landing of other species including crab and tuna.
The lobster cooperative at Interstate Lobster in Harpswell will use some $155,000 in funds allocated by the LMF board to support the demolition, replacement and expansion of an existing wharf. The project will improve the structural integrity of the wharf, built in 1978 and suffering from cracked and split underpinnings, which have cost the co-op as much as $30,000 annually to maintain. The wharf serves 21 co-op members and 20 additional boats that land lobsters, scallops and menhaden.
Preliminary allocations represent LMF Board support for the various projects but, before funds are disbursed, each applicant must submit an appraisal, and complete all real estate due-diligence to the satisfaction of the state.
The Working Waterfront Access Protection Program is part of the Land for Maine’s Future Program. The Working Waterfront Access Protection Program fund was capitalized initially by a bond first passed in 2005 that has been renewed three times subsequently by Maine voters.
Funds are allocated by the LMF Board to support projects that sustain access to the waterfront for commercial fishing and aquaculture in exchange for development rights through a legal document called a Working Waterfront Covenant. To date, 25 properties have received funds through the program. The program is administered jointly by the Department of Marine Resources and the Land for Maine’s Future Program.