Harpswell sets guidelines for Mitchell Field pier demolition

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HARPSWELL — The town will require the contractor selected to demolish the Mitchell Field pier to abide by restrictions intended to reduce noise, traffic and impact on recreation.

Members of the public told the Mitchell Field Committee in June those were their major concerns about the town’s plan to take down the dilapidated, former U.S. Navy pier that bisects the property’s shoreline.

The project, the town’s largest and most expensive ever, will last until the spring 2019 and cost $5 million.

Since June, the committee, town planner and consulting engineer have integrated the public’s feedback into the request for proposals – chief among them being a limitation on summer and nighttime construction and during Thursday evening bandstand concerts.

The RFP hasn’t been finalized – selectmen are expected to review it at their upcoming Sept. 29 meeting – but committee Chairwoman Jane Covey summarized the specifications at a Sept. 18 public meeting.

Next summer, heavy work will halt from June 1 to Labor Day, she said. Divers, however, are permitted to continue their work through the summer, since it takes place underwater and depends on the tides.

The ban effectively means that workers won’t loudly process the pier materials – to be hauled from the ocean and then crushed, sorted, and stored in three piles on an upland portion of the field – either after the sun goes down or through the summer months.

“Meaning they won’t be smashing concrete,” Covey said, in lay terms. 

That smashing will cause dust, which had neighbors concerned. Covey and planner Mark Eyerman assured them that contractors are expected to abide by rules with the Department of Transportation that require them to implement a mitigation plan; Eyerman also said that a fabric fence will cordon off the lay-down area and block particles.

The nearby bandstand, inland from the beach on the south side of the 119-acre property, is sensitive to dust, and contractors will be made to keep it clean.

That gazebo hosts a summertime series of Thursday night concerts, and calls to maintain the tradition were heard by the town: the RFP will put limitations on work from 4-9 p.m. Thursdays next summer.

Truck traffic seemed to top neighborly concerns in June – especially at the field’s entrance just beyond a narrow bend on Route 123 – but the Monday night panel had little to say except that contractors are expected to implement proper signage and safety measures.

Covey said neither she nor the project engineer, Barney Baker, who wasn’t at the Sept. 18 meeting, were concerned that RFPs haven’t yet gone out; she noted at a meeting last week that finalizing the document has taken longer than anticipated.

“Barney (Baker’s) feeling from the inquiries he’s had,” Covey told a resident at the meeting, “is at least some (contractors) that have expressed interest in the project have seen starting in the winter as not an obstacle.”

 Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

Members of Harpswell’s Mitchell Field Committee surround project engineer Barney Baker, holding a 10-foot story pole, at a site walk of the field designated “lay down” area in June. The committee told the public this week that it’s finalizing a request for proposal to include limitations on construction activity at the popular recreational site.

Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.