Freeport man building ship out of recycled steel fails to meet town deadline

Harold Arndt stands in front of his 113-foot-long, unfinished, steel schooner made completely out of reclaimed materials in a residential Freeport neighborhood in July 2012. Arndt has been working on the boat for almost 20 years.
Harold Arndt stands in front of his 113-foot-long, unfinished, steel schooner made completely out of reclaimed materials in a residential Freeport neighborhood in July 2012. Arndt has been working on the boat for almost 20 years. Buy Photo
Posted Feb. 01, 2013, at 11:35 a.m.

FREEPORT, Maine — Former trap manufacturer Harold Arndt’s embattled “Island Rover” is out of time and hanging in the balance.

Arndt failed to meet a Jan. 26 town deadline to meet conditions that would have temporarily relieved the project from its zoning nonconformity and given him three more years to finish building his boat.

For several years, Arndt has been trying to build a steel-hulled research vessel on his Lower Flying Point Road property. He envisions it being used as a floating classroom and laboratory, outfitted with modern scientific equipment, to study Maine marine life and coastal conditions.

But the boat is far from finished, and its presence in an area where municipal zoning doesn’t allow marine industrial construction is a sore spot for the council.

Since Peter Joseph started as Freeport’s town manager in September, he has been negotiating with Arndt in anticipation of the Jan. 26 deadline. Although the Island Rover project now is out of compliance, Joseph said Monday the town plans no immediate action.

He said he expects the Town Council to discuss the issue during its next meeting on Feb. 5.

However, Joseph warned that, depending on the tone of discussion during the meeting, “the council may direct me to take action.”

For his part, Arndt remained tight-lipped about the status of the negotiations, other than to say that they are ongoing and that he is hopeful that an agreement can be reached.

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