Falmouth hopes to replace Town Landing floats

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FALMOUTH — Plans are starting to come together to replace the aging float system at Town Landing.

Using a $50,000 grant from the state, along with capital improvement funds that have been set aside for the past several years, the town is hoping to install the new floats in time for the 2018 boating season.

The Harbor/Waterfront Committee will hold a workshop on the proposed plan June 29 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Baker Design Consultants, a Freeport engineering firm, will present “recommendations for improvements to the facility that will include changes in float layout and gangway access to make the facility more efficient, more accessible and safer,” according to company President Barney Baker.

“The existing floats will either be replaced or reused,” he said, “depending on their condition.”

The last time the floats at Town Landing were replaced was in 1998. “The floats have provided good service,” Baker said, “But have deteriorated to the point where they should be replaced.”

Baker said his firm was hired to update the gangway and float system because the company designed the Town Landing pier replacement, which included the existing float system.

He said an initial meeting to obtain input from the Harbor/Waterfront Committee on the float project was held in May and the plan that will be presented next week “is based on the feedback received and the plan refinements made to date.”

Lt. John Kilbride of the Falmouth Police Department wrote the application for a Small Harbor Improvement Program grant the town received late last year from the Maine Department of Transportation.

The goal of such grants is to promote “economic development, public access and improved commercial fishing opportunities,” according to the DOT.

Kilbride said Falmouth succeeded in getting the grant because “we have a unique harbor that supports both commercial and recreational uses. We also have one of the largest mooring fields in the northeast.”

Kilbride said the town applied for the Small Harbor grant in 2016 because the floats at the Town Landing “are in need of repair. They’re in tough shape and need to be replaced.”

The hope is that with the $110,000 the town has set aside for the project, about 15 of the floats could be replaced, he said.

“We’re not changing the layout that much, but we need input from the public,” Kilbride said, which is why the Harbor/Waterfront Committee has been consulted on the redesign.

He said the goal is to ensure the new floats and gangway are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and there is no negative impact on marine resources.

Baker said he hopes the float plan is approved this summer so his firm can start the permitting process. In addition to approval from the town, float replacement requires permission from several state and federal agencies.

If all goes as planned, he said, the floats could be built this winter and installed in spring 2018. Local technical school students could be tapped to build the floats, Kilbride and Baker said, as they were for the system now in place.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

The float system at the Falmouth Town Landing is nearly 20 years old. The town hopes to install new floats in time for the 2018 boating season.