City Manager Provides Update on Branch Lake Boat Launch



ELLSWORTH — City Manager Michelle Beal gave an update on the state’s efforts to build a public boat launch on Branch Lake Saturday at the Branch Lake Association’s annual meeting.

 

The Maine Department of Conservation intends to build a public boat launch on land it owns on Branch Lake, which is the city’s drinking water supply. The state’s land is at the end of Branch View Drive and extends south for 1,217 acres.

The state has finished surveying the land, Beal said. There is no engineering plan yet.

Beal said the city is still negotiating details of the site with the state. There are two issues being contended, including the hours of operation.

The other issue is whether the state will shut down the boat launch if an invasive aquatic species is found in the lake, the city manager said.

“We’ve made a lot of headway with the state,” Beal said. “It has not been easy.”

George Powell, director of boating facilities for the Bureau of Parks and Lands, which is under the umbrella of the Department of Conservation, is overseeing the project.

Powell said Tuesday that the project is being designed and the department is still working with the city on a licensing agreement.

The proposed arrangement between the city and the state is “a little bit unusual,” Powell said, because typically the municipality owns the land.

“In this case, the state owns the site,” Powell said. “We’ve agreed to a license to allow them to operate it.”

Once the design is complete, the state will seek city permits and a Site Location of Development permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

While less than an acre of land will be disturbed for the ramp and parking, the state intends to build a new road to the property, which is triggering the need for a development permit.

Beal told the 60 Branch Lake residents attending Saturday’s meeting that Branch View Drive would no longer be used for access to the lake once the new road is built off the Happytown Road.

Powell said he hopes to have work on the access road started next summer with construction of the launch in the fall of 2010 when water levels are as low as possible.

Beal took several written questions from residents. One asked whether lake residents would be required to pay a fee to launch at the new site.

Beal said she wasn’t sure.

Another resident asked if the city would pay the cleanup costs if the lake gets infested with invasive aquatic plants.

“We’re prepared to do what we need to do to protect all the lakes in Ellsworth,” Beal said.

 

For more community news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

 

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