Controversial Southport dredging project canceled

Posted Sept. 13, 2013, at 10:51 a.m.

SOUTHPORT, Maine — A dredging project proposed by a Pratts Island homeowner to make way for his 29-foot boat has been halted following public outcry about the environmental damage opponents said it would have caused.

Jessamine Logan, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, said Thursday that the department was notified via email that the project will not move forward. No application was ever submitted, she said.

In 2011, Paul Coulombe, the former CEO and chairman of White Rock Distilleries in Lewiston, built an 18,000-square-foot home on the east coast of Pratts Island. Earlier this year, he proposed the dredging project to improve access for his boat to the island.

On Aug. 17, environmental consultant Bud Brown of Eco-Analysts Inc., Coulombe’s project manager, told dozens of residents gathered at a preliminary site visit that the project would have required blasting ledge and dredging a cove off the beach to create a “meandering” channel for the boat.

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Neighbors, a leading lobster conservationist and others at the meeting peppered Brown with questions and concerns, at times growing hostile and causing a selectman to call for “decorum.”

Diane Cowan of The Lobster Conservancy said the project would cause “total destruction” of one of the most significant juvenile lobster nurseries on the northern East Coast and damage lobster fishing in the area.

On Wednesday, Brown declined to comment on why the proposal was pulled. There was no answer at Coulombe’s home number.

Southport resident Molly Hutchins said she hasn’t heard why the project was cancelled.

“I don’t know whether or not there was a problem with it or whether it was because of public outcry,” Hutchins said.

Jennifer Elderkin, who grew up near the beach and in August decried “the total arrogance” of the project, said in email to the Bangor Daily News on Sept. 10, “This is not likely to be the last we hear from Paul Coulombe.”

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