BREWER, Maine — When plans for Cianbro’s Eastern Manufacturing Facility were laid on the table in 2007, they included a commercial marina — paid for with a federal earmark — that other businesses in the area could use.
Cianbro officials recently have decided to build the pier using company money and have reduced the scope of the project, General Manager Joe Cote said Tuesday.
The move is great news for Brewer because it will allow the city to use the 2005 transportation earmark to begin work on a planned riverside trail, said D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer’s economic development director.
The earmark, now valued around $1.1 million, was awarded to Brewer for transportation improvements associated with the city’s waterfront, she said.
“With no more need to use the earmark for the pier project, we can now free it up for other uses,” Main-Boyington said in a June 30 e-mail to City Manager Steve Bost. She went on to say that “the legislative language allowed for only a very narrow range of uses, but our Riverwalk trail is specifically written in as an acceptable use.”
Brewer’s proposed historic waterfront trail is an interactive riverside walking trail with a visitors center that eventually will stretch from South Brewer to Indian Head Trail Park, located north of the Penobscot Bridge.
“We’re currently looking at Phase One — the area between the three bridges,” Main-Boyington said. “We’ll build the trail first, with park benches and lighting, with plans in place” for additional amenities that could be added later.
The cost to complete Phase One is “going to be at least double that, maybe more,” Main-Boyington said, referring to the million-dollar federal earmark.
Concept plans unveiled by Informal Learning Experiences Inc. of Washington, D.C., in 2006 call for a 12-foot-wide riverside walking, biking and hiking path of asphalt built upon the recently completed shoreline stabilization project that was done in partnership with the state’s Department of Transportation.
Elements of the region’s past, including riverside mills, brick making, boat building, ice harvesting, fishing, the old ferry system and the river’s destructive power, are spotlighted in the designs for Phase Two of the trail.
The city also is applying for DOT trail grant funds to help pay for the riverside trail, Main-Boyington said. She added that since Cianbro will not be using the federal earmark funds, the site, which is owned by South Brewer Redevelopment, now can be sold to the company.
The site needed to be owned by the city or a nonprofit group in order to qualify for the funding, Main-Boyington explained.
“They will be exercising their option and taking full control of the site,” she said, adding the transfer of ownership is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Cianbro officials basically decided that “Cianbro will support its own capital improvements,” Cote said.
“This will be the best for all the parties,” he said. “They [the city] can use the funds to directly benefit the community itself. We know our benefit for the community is to put people to work.”
The Brewer manufacturing site has a deep-water bulkhead, big enough to handle the massive barges needed to move modules and other items too large to move by road or rail, but it is too large for smaller boats to use.
The designs for the planned Cianbro-owned and -operated industrial pier are 70 percent complete and are based solely on future contract needs, Cote said, adding that initial contacts already have been made with state and federal agencies about constructing the pier.
He said businesses in the region could request to use the dock, which is planned for a location just north of the bulkhead.
“We’re a friendly neighbor and good corporate citizen,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll see us offloading coal… [but] we’ll talk to anybody.”
Cianbro recently completed a multiyear contract building refinery modules in Brewer for a Texas expansion project. The site is relatively idle while officials work to get a new contract.
“We’re getting closer to our next project,” Cote said, adding that officials expect to announce a new contract “sometime in the next month.”