High bids cause Brunswick group to delay moving vintage Navy plane

Posted June 28, 2013, at 1:17 p.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — The P-2 Neptune isn’t going anywhere for a while.

In April, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority began seeking proposals to move the vintage warplane half a mile down Admiral Fitch Drive and place it next to its cousin, the P-3 Orion. The move is needed to make room for Topsham developer Priority Real Estate Group, which intends to build a series of professional office and medical buildings along the entrance to the former U.S. Navy air base.

Only two bids were received and Steve Levesque, MRRA’s executive director, said they were far too expensive to be considered.

“One was for $80,000 and the other was for $170,000,” Levesque said. “We don’t have that kind of money [for the project], so the P-2 will stay right where it is for now.”

The goal was to move the plane to a new, permanent display at Fitch Drive and Pegasus Street.

Whether new bids will be sought or a specific company hand-picked to do the job, Levesque didn’t say. He suggested the plane might not have to move after all, and that Priority Group might revise its architectural plans to preserve the P-2’s current resting spot.

“It’s important to us,” Levesque said. “We’re trying to memorialize the history of the base with what we do.”

Both of the former base’s submarine-hunter planes, the P-2 and P-3, were on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation at the time of the base’s 2006 decommissioning and subsequent closure in 2011. They were deeded to MRRA so they could remain on site as reminders of the base’s Cold War-era significance to national security.

Construction of the new buildings is not scheduled to begin until 2014.

Jim Howard, president of Priority Real Estate Group, did not comment specifically on plans for the plane, but said he would work with MRRA “to resolve the issue.”

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