SCARBOROUGH — The town on Tuesday was awarded a grant that clears the way for a new commercial pier to be constructed at Pine Point.
Land for Maine’s Future has committed nearly $300,000 to the pier project through its Working Waterfront Pilot Access Protection Program. That money, combined with $400,000 appropriated by the town in 2006 and a $100,000 Small Harbor Improvement Program (SHIP) grant awarded in December 2007, will fund the $820,000 project.
A few years ago, the town received two other SHIP grants, totalling $65,000, that were used for the engineering and design of a new pier.
The current pier at Pine Point was constructed in 1971 to help the 15 full-time fishermen who used it to load and off-load their boats. The town added three 10-by-30-foot floats in 1999, but, by that time, the number of commercial fishermen who used the pier had increased to 25.
Now, the pier is used by 35 commercial fishermen and 31 commercial clammers.
The structure poses significant safety risks to fishermen, who must manually lug their heavy gear, traps, bait and catch, Marine Resources Officer/Harbormaster Dave Corbeau said Wednesday. In addition, access to boats from the pier is limited to about two hours a day because of its dependency on the tides, he said.
The new pier design will give fishermen 24-hour access and provide two hoists to make heavy loads more manageable.
“What’s happening now, we have to schedule our time around the tide because it changes daily,” commercial fisherman Tim Foster said. “It’s real aggravating when you miss the tide by 20 minutes.”
Corbeau said he’d been working on getting funding for the project for five years.
“This is huge for the people; not just for the fishermen,” he said. “There will be fresh water, better low-level lighting, security cameras. This is for all the people of Scarborough to enjoy.”
According to Town Manager Tom Hall, the Working Waterfront Pilot Access Protection Program “targets projects that enhance or secure waterfront opportunities.” A condition of the funding gives the state a protective easement on the property to keep it from being sold.
Pine Point Pier is accessed from town-owned property located at the end of King Street. The 2.12-acre parcel contains a 90-space parking lot, a public boat launch and a building that houses the marine resources officer. A town-owned 0.3-acre lot that abuts the property will also be restricted by the protective covenant.
Though the design of the new pier is complete, the town must secure the proper permits before the project can go forward, Hall said. Assuming no unforeseen problems arise in the permitting process, he said they hope to begin construction on the pier this fall.
The 6-foot wide current pier total 840 square feet with an additional 2,100 square feet of floats, according to Corbeau’s grant application. At a width of 14 feet, the new pier is designed to be 4,200 square feet with an additional 3,300 square feet of floats. It was initially believed the existing pilings could be used to support the new pier, but in order to make if safe for vehicles, it will be constructed on new pilings and built next to the existing structure.
Councilor Shawn Babine praised Corbeau, Hall and other state and local lawmakers and officials who worked so hard to bring the concept to reality.
“This is incredible; I’m excited,” he said. “It was definitely a team approach. The council advocated the $400,000 and it was one of the few projects that I don’t think I’ve heard anyone complain about. We used our authority well; now we just have to build a better pier.”