STONINGTON, Maine — The town of Stonington will use a Maine Coastal Program grant to develop a design and bid package for a permanent pier at the Colwell property.
The $20,500 grant, which includes a $5,000 local contribution, will help to develop a permanent, year-round landing for vessels serving Isle Au Haut and other islands, according to Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris.
Economic Development Director Matthew Skolnikoff prepared the grant application on behalf of Stonington and Isle au Haut, and the two towns will split the cost of the local contribution necessary to obtain the grant.
The towns have shared costs for improvements to the property since they agreed to purchase the parcel jointly in 1999 in an effort to provide water access for both communities. The property is used by recreational boaters and also provides access to the mainland for island residents.
Initially, the towns had hoped to preserve the building on the property, but prospective tenants went elsewhere, Billings-Pezaris said, and the building had deteriorated to the point that it had to be removed.
In addition, the two towns have repaired the launching ramp, added floats, and made the facility accessible to handicapped people using grant funding, she said. The facility, however, is used only in the summer months. The floats are taken out during the winter months, and travelers to and from the islands use floats across the harbor at Hagen Dock.
“That’s not ideal,” Billings-Pezaris said. “They can’t handle anything heavy there. The biggest impact of the pier will be that it will give us the ability to offload freight going to Isle au Haut. That’s really critical. It’ll be a lifeline to those islands out there.”
A permanent, year-round stone pier also will provide access for larger barges that could serve the islands, she said.
The town received word in December from the State Planning Office, which administers the Maine Coastal Program, that it had been approved for the grant, she said, and Skolnikoff is working on the final paperwork. The next step will be to find an engineer to design the stone pier, she said.
The two towns have no clear date on when they could start work on constructing the stone pier. There are no funds available at this point. Billings-Pezaris said the town will look for grant funding to help with the cost of construction, but the key was to have a plan ready to go.
“It all depends on what we can find for other funds,” she said. “Because of the economy, that may be several years out. But we wanted to have a plan ready when those funds become available.”