Harpswell OKs funds for Mackerel Cove launch repairs

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HARPSWELL — The town will spend an additional $40,000 to repair the Mackerel Cove boat launch, after voters Tuesday approved the extra money by a vote of 1,282 to 326.

Town Meeting approved $60,000 for the project in March.

Additional funding was necessary, however, according to the town’s explanation of the ballot question, because of a design change made “right before” Town Meeting. 

The project’s original plans called for replacing the lower 40 feet of the paved launch ramp with concrete, and the upper 100 feet with pavement.

However, in an interview last month, Deputy Town Administrator Terri Sawyer said Department of Environmental Protection Standards don’t allow pavement below the high-water mark.

Instead, she said, the “entire ramp below the high tide (will) be constructed with concrete boat ramps,” adding $40,000 to the project.

The repair is necessary, Sawyer added, because the launch is “heavily used” and has degraded over the years.

Broken down, the March warrant article sought approval for $35,000 from the town’s Land Acquisition and Improvement Fund, $10,000 from the Town Landings Account, and $15,000 from a Harbor Management Access grant awarded to the town.

Along with the funds approved by voters Tuesday, the total project cost estimated by Will Haskell of Gorrill Palmer, the town’s engineering firm, is $100,000.

Shortly before 6 p.m. June 12, Mountain Road and Harpswell Neck residents were still coming out in force to Elijah Kellogg Church, a polling location that Election Warden Amy Saxton said had “been crazy” all day.

The town also had two other polling places: the Cundys Harbor Community Building for Great Islanders, and the old Orrs Island School House for Orrs/Bailey Island residents.

“This morning was brutal,” Saxton said, adding that polling staff had run low on ballots, and needed to take from the absentee stack.

She said it wasn’t an isolated local issue, as she had heard of a statewide ballot shortage.

Saxton, who said she has worked in local polling for three years and in the Legislature for 16 years previously, called yesterday’s turnout in Harpswell “incredible,” and noted many voters who showed up registered for political parties.

One voter in attendance was John Wright, who said he voted in favor of the additional boat launch funds, but also said he hoped ranked-choice voting would continue in the future.

His wife Gladys Knight said she was also in favor of the additional launch money.

“That’s a great thing to have,” she said. 

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Harpswell voters approved an additional $40,000 to be spent on repairing the Mackerel Cove boat launch June 12, by a vote of 1,282 to 326.