TREMONT, Maine — With some help from the state, a local family is getting the chance to make some improvements to its fishing pier and to make sure the property is preserved for use by others who make their living from the sea.
Wayne Davis and his brother Robert Davis own a pier on Clark Point Road on Goose Cove. Last month, the Davises received $265,000 from the state’s Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program in exchange for the development rights to the waterfront property. The deal will prevent the Davises or any future owner from devel-oping the pier for any other type of use.
By selling the development rights, the Davis brothers also have been able to lower their property tax bill, to guarantee that Robert Davis’ son, Matthew, will be able to inherit it someday, and to make improvements to the property.
According to a statement about the project sent out last week by state officials, the Davis property consists of less than an acre with 420 feet of rocky shoreline and a 3,200-square-foot pier.
Wayne Davis said Sunday that, for the first time, he and his brother are having a ramp and float installed at the pier. Previously, whenever it was low tide the Davises and others who were allowed to use the property had to use a ladder to get from their boats onto the pier or had to hop off in shallow water and walk around on the shore.
“Basically, we’re preserving it right now for Matt,” Wayne Davis said of his nephew. “It’s permanently preserved for fishing.”
Matthew Davis’ son, 4-year-old Ryan, could become the fifth generation of the family to use the pier if he decides to become a fisherman, Wayne Davis said. Davis said he and his brother first thought in 2007 about getting a covenant on their property. Their grandfather Fred Davis built the pier there 60 years ago and passed it on to their father, Edwin Davis.
With the state of lobstering now, Wayne Davis said, the protection of their pier could not come at a better time. The price of lobster fell sharply last fall as the economy dropped, and the springtime price of lobster still is lower than it normally is at this time of year, he said, even though their expenses are largely the same.
“We’re still facing it right now in our industry,” he said. “We’re getting squeezed by regulations and demand for lobster is down. This really came down at the right time.”
Davis said he and his brother let others use the wharf with permission. Robert Hudson, a former sternman for Robert Davis, uses the property, as do some fish seiners and some local barge workers who work on piers as seasonal residents.
Marine Resources Commissioner George Lapointe said in a statement that the goal of the program is to preserve traditions and professions established by Maine families such as the Davises.
“The Davis wharf represents an excellent example of Maine’s multigenerational fishing families and their sincere desire to preserve access for future generations,” Lapointe said. “We are very appreciative of their efforts and the time they have put into making this project a success.”
DMR and Land for Maine’s Future jointly run the state program, which was created in 2005 after studies showed that the amount of working waterfront facilities in Maine was rapidly shrinking as they were being bought up and redeveloped into expensive residential properties. The funding is used to buy a “working waterfront covenant” that effectively restricts any future development that conflicts with fisheries uses.
Since 2005, voter-approved bond funds have helped protect more than a dozen similar working oceanfront properties worth more than $13 million in Maine. Demand for the program is increasing, but current funding levels are expected to support only five or six more projects, according to state officials.