HAMPDEN, Maine — Construction will begin this spring on a new parking lot at the town’s marina on the Penobscot River.
Despite being distracted by fallout from a debate over reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during Town Council meetings, town councilors Monday night voted 7-0 to award the parking lot construction contract to Hampden-based Maine Earth, which submitted the low bid of $248,985, Dean Bennett, Hampden’s community and economic development director, said Tuesday.
The new parking lot will be the same size as the current one but in a slightly different location, Bennett said. The deadline for completing construction is July 31, he said, adding that the work won’t interfere with boaters who frequent town-owned Turtle Head Marina and neighboring Hamlin’s Marina.
Bennett said the parking lot construction is part of a larger marina overhaul made possible by a land swap and a complex partnership that began in 2008 and involved many players, among them Hamlin’s Marina, town officials, state and federal environmental agencies and Chevron, according to previous Bangor Daily News stories.
Hamlin’s was looking for a way to expand its operations on the Penobscot River in Hampden and the town was looking for ways to increase recreational opportunities at Turtle Head Marina.
Meanwhile, Chevron needed a remediation credit opportunity to build public good will and avoid stiffer fines from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which had discovered that tanks sold by Chevron to Gulf Oil Corp. in the mid-1980s had leaked into the Penobscot River over a 20-year period.
Hamlin’s General Manager Dan Higgins’ 2008 proposal to Bennett called for the company’s purchase of the town-owned undeveloped peninsula it was leasing next to its marina operation, but after further discussion, that idea turned into Hamlin’s swapping its peninsula property for the 7 acres owned by the town that his Hamlin’s Marina boat showroom and garage were sitting on.
The swap provided Hamlin’s with expanded retail and parking space and allowed the town to expand Turtle Head to include additional dock space, a park, trails and other amenities.
Bennett said Tuesday that the parking lot is a first step toward a marina overhaul that will provide the community a shorefront park featuring walking trails, an improved fueling and boat dock, a new canoe and kayak launch and public restrooms.
Also on Monday night, councilors sent a development agreement with Sargent Corp. and a related ordinance authorizing the conveyance of town-owned land on to a public hearing during their next regular meeting, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 22.
They also heard from several residents on both sides of the Pledge of Allegiance issue.