Bar Harbor council approves plans for road, building projects

Posted Dec. 07, 2011, at 8:08 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The Town Council gave preliminary endorsements Tuesday to three proposed capital improvement projects.

Presented to the seven-member council Tuesday night were rough concepts for a new harbor master’s office, a new public works building and town garage in Hulls Cove, and a reconstructed intersection of Route 102 and Knox and Crooked roads in Town Hill.

The item that got the most discussion was the proposed harbor master’s office, which would be located next to the town pier, overlooking the harbor. Some town officials at the meeting said they had received feedback, some of it unsolicited, about the appearance of the building. An illustration of what it might look like recently appeared in a local weekly newspaper, which prompted some of the negative feedback.

Police Chief Nate Young has been spearheading the project. He told the council Tuesday that residents should not assume that the depiction in the newspaper, which reprinted a conceptual engineering drawing, represents what the completed building will look like. What kind of windows and siding the building will have has not been determined, he said.

The building, which will be built on pilings immediately north of where the harbor master’s office is now located, is expected to be two stories tall and to have a flat roof, according to Young. The current office is only one small room and because it sits at pier level has a limited view of the harbor.

The federal Department of Homeland Security is funding 75 percent of the construction costs, with the rest coming from cruise ship fees, to help improve Bar Harbor’s port security, the chief said. A key component of that is making sure the harbor master has a good view of the harbor, which had more than 100 cruise ship visits between late April and late October this year.

The extra space also is needed, Young said. The new building would have a proper reception area, its own restroom and a workroom for repairing equipment, none of which exist in the current office. It also would have a meeting room and extra office space that could be used as needed by the Police Department or other law enforcement entities such as the Coast Guard or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Young said 75 percent of the building’s estimated $500,000 cost will be funded by Homeland Security while the remaining $125,000 will be paid with money the town has raised in cruise ship fees. He said the project will have to be approved by the town’s planning board before construction can begin. The goal is to have the building completed sometime in 2012.

“We’re hoping to start as soon as possible,” Young said.

The council voted 7-0 to approve preliminary conceptual plans for the new harbor master’s office.

The panel also unanimously endorsed preliminary plans to build a new town garage in Hulls Cove and to reconfigure the intersection of Route 102 and Knox and Crooked roads in Town Hill.

Chip Reeves, Bar Harbor’s public works director, said the rebuilt intersection is expected to cost between $70,000 and $80,000, which will be split evenly between the town and Maine Department of Transportation. The project is expected to create better sightlines off the secondary roads onto the state highway and to create safer conditions for traffic flowing between Route 102 and Knox Road. The road project, he said, hopefully will get under way next spring.

The new garage is expected to cost between $2.6 million and $3 million, according to Reeves. He said it will be built on town-owned land on Crooked Road next to a gravel pit owned by Harold MacQuinn Inc.

At 22,400 square feet, the new garage would house the water and highway departments and be only slightly larger than the space the two departments take up now at the end of Ledgelawn Avenue in the main village, Reeves said. It will be more functional and efficient space, however, and will give them a more central location near other Bar Harbor villages such as Town Hill and Salisbury Cove.

Reeves said the garage project is expected to be funded through a bond and so will have to be approved by voters at Bar Harbor’s annual town meeting next June if it is to move ahead.

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