BRUNSWICK — Improvements to the Water Street boat ramp, which will include new public floats designed for non-motorized boats, are expected to be complete by next spring.
Last month, the town approved a $124,500 contract with Westhampton Beach, New York-based, Chesterfield Associates to expand the concrete launch, remove shoreline rocks and install a dock system.
The launch accesses the Androscoggin River where it feeds into Merrymeeting Bay.
The town intended to enlarge the “make-ready” area at the head of the launch and put in additional handicapped parking, but had to scale back the plan to fit within budget, said Tom Farrell, the director of Brunswick’s Recreation Department.
The highlight of the project is a floating dock system that will provide easier accessibility for boaters, rowers and paddlers.
Part of the system is being supported by fundraising by the Merrymeeting Community Rowing Association, which has more than 50 members and stores its rowing shells in a shed near the launch.
A 96-foot-long series of floats will extend from the shoreline, which will make it easier for boaters to take their vessels in and out, Farrell explained.
Rowers and paddlers can utilize a smaller, 42-foot platform that will run perpendicular at the end of the main float. The smaller float will be installed closer to the water, making it easier for people to use.
In addition, contractors will remove up to four vertical feet from a rock pile at the end of the main launch that boaters frequently clip with their propellers during high tide.
The floating docks are also specifically designed to give rowers enough space to maneuver while carrying the long craft over their heads from the shed to the water, said Anna Jordan, the rowing association’s program director.
While the association has worked on the project in tandem with the town, the docks are open to everyone, Jordan noted.
“We believe the dock project will help us share the beauty of the Androscoggin with more members of the community,” she said. “It’s a great way for the town to encourage recreation and community connections.”
The rowing association has dedicated $25,000 to the project, and Brunswick received another $66,000 through a state grant. The town will fund the balance.
So far, the association has raised $21,000 and has until mid-May 2015 to raise the rest.
According to Farrell, the contract calls for Chesterfield to remove the rock obstructions by the end of November.
The dock system has to be completed by May 15, 2015, according to the terms of the contract.