Harpswell panel recommends demolition of Mitchell Field pier

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

HARPSWELL — The town’s Mitchell Field Committee recommends demolishing the aging pier at the former U.S. Navy fuel depot.

The committee Tuesday night also recommended construction of an all-tide, two-lane boat launch to replace the pier.

Chairwoman Jane Covey announced the decision at a public meeting at the town offices Tuesday night. The demolition work would cost a projected $3-4 million.

The pier has been an issue since a free-standing “dolphin” on the northern side of the structure collapsed into the ocean in 2012. A dolphin is a manmade structure extending above the water level that isn’t connected to the shore.

A pumphouse then collapsed last summer.

Covey also said that the pier’s concrete surface is falling apart, and some of its supports are corroding. An engineering study in 2012 by DeLuca-Hoffman Associates found the pier to be unsafe for use, and much of it has been fenced-off since.

“We really feel we can no longer do nothing,” Covey said. “Not only is (the pier) dangerous … it really is not usable.”

The financing for demolition would not happen this year. Instead, the committee is asking voters to adopt its recommendations in a warrant article at the March 12 Town Meeting.

If approved, coming up with the $3-4 million would be put to voters at a future Town Meeting.

Covey said the boat launch would be “more appropriate” for the intended recreational use of the field and beach than the pier. Barney Baker, the project’s design consultant, estimated the cost at $330,000.

Although full financing would be figured out at a later date, the committee is asking voters to approve $30,000 this year for further study of the pier.

Covey said the committee is looking into turning some of the rock and concrete rubble from the pier into an artificial reef, rather than moving it offsite. That could amount to about $700,000 in savings, she said.

Permits would be needed from several regulatory agencies, including the state Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Marine Resources.

Town Planner Mark Eyerman said such a project has never been allowed in Maine, but similar ones have been approved in Massachusetts.

Also at the meeting, although not commenting, were representatives from Harpswell Coastal Academy. Head of School John D’Anieri last month presented a plan to the Board of Selectmen to use Mitchell Field for a coastal campus for the charter school and other interested stakeholders, including the University of New England and the Landing School in Arundel.

The proposed centerpiece of that project, the “Coastal Commons for Arts and Media,” would be in the former Navy administrative building, which is across from the potential location of the boat launch.

After the meeting, D’Anieri said the school is still in the “information-sharing stage” with the town, and that he would be attending a workshop for the proposed plan, currently called the “Propeller Project,” on Monday, March 7.

That meeting will take place at 4 p.m. at the town offices.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

A photo rendering of the proposed Mitchell Field boat launch.

0
Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.