Harpswell to start removal of collapsed Mitchell Field pumphouse

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HARPSWELL — The town is taking the first step toward removing a pumphouse that collapsed at the pier at Mitchell Field in June.

The pumphouse is the latest part of the former U.S. Navy pier to collapse; a free-standing cell on the north side of the structure collapsed in 2012.

An engineering study in 2012 by DeLuca-Hoffman Associates found the pier to be unsafe for use, and it was subsequently fenced off.

Harpswell was notified July 1 by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection that it had to remove the collapsed pumphouse from the water.

In a July 21 memo to the Board of Selectmen, Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said DEP approved the town’s plan to remove the collapsed structure in phases.

Phase one, according to Eiane, will consist of a contractor removing any parts attached to the collapsed structure at or above the low-water mark.

Much of the material to be removed will be steel, and not the concrete blocks that have sunk to the bottom, which will be more expensive to take out, according to Eiane.

“I feel like we ought to get on this as quickly as we can to minimize our risk and get rid of some of those items,” she said.

Eiane recommended the town hire Atlantic Mechanical, which previously removed the catwalks after one of the outer dolphins collapsed off of the pier in 2012, and was selected that time via a public bidding process.

The estimated cost of the project would be less than $8,000 she said, “for which the town has available funds.”

It could take up to two years for complete removal of the collapsed structure, she added.

Selectmen approved the first phase of removal, with Atlantic Mechanical doing the work. Chairman Rick Daniel also suggested the board hold a workshop on issues at Mitchell Field.

“(There’s the) ramp, the wharf, the water tower … I think we need to maybe just really explore ideas and thoughts and issues in a greater sense than we could right here,” he said.

Selectman Elinor Multer said there should be a holistic plan to remove the pier.

“(The) agony could go on for years as it collapses piecemeal,” she said.

Cost estimates for fully demolishing or rehabilitating the pier range from $3-5 million.

An initial DEP projection estimated the full removal of just the pumphouse would cost almost $74,000.

Where to find that money, however, remains undetermined.

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

Sidebar Elements

The pumphouse on the pier at Mitchell Field in Harpswell collapsed in June. The Department of Environmental Protection subsequently ordered the town to remove the structure.

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.