File Photo

Sunbeam relocation gets cloudy reception



MOUNT DESERT — At 75 feet in length, the Maine Sea Coast Mission’s vessel, Sunbeam, takes up a lot of space beside the pier in Northeast Harbor, its home port.

Town officials say that space is needed for lobster boats and other commercial craft. They want to create new docking facilities in the harbor for Sunbeam and other vessels.

But Rev. Scott Planting, president of the Mission, told the board of selectmen Monday night that the present location offers more convenience and greater public visibility. He said that if Sunbeam is forced to move, it might leave Northeast Harbor altogether.

A succession of Sea Coast Mission boats have been based in Northeast Harbor over the past 60 years. Sunbeam has been berthed at the pier since 1995.

The Mission uses Sunbeam to help provide “spiritual, health and youth development programs” in coastal and island communities. The boat is used for religious services, community meals and meetings. It also carries telemedicine equipment that allows health care providers to “see” patients in remote locations.

Town officials say they want to keep Sunbeam in Northeast Harbor, but it is in the way in its present location on the north side of the pier.

The marine management committee has proposed extending the northern-most set of finger floats at the marina by 40 or 45 feet. That would provide space for three or four more pleasure boats, with Sunbeam at the end.

Marine management committee chairman Rick Savage said that the committee has been looking at the need to expand the docking facilities for some time.

Town manager Durlin Lunt said the new dock space would immediately start generating revenue.

Selectmen voted unanimously recently to authorize Lunt and the marine management committee to “investigate the expansion of the marina.”

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