Belfast council, shipyard discuss using city property to repair sailboat mast damaged in lightning strike

Posted Sept. 03, 2014, at 3:11 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Since Front Street Shipyard started up business a few years ago on the Belfast waterfront, the yachts and sailing ships it has brought to town have transformed the harbor.

On Tuesday night, Belfast city councilors heard about the shipyard’s plans this weekend to unstep, or take down, the masts of two big sailboats. One 16-ton, 187-foot-long mast is so big that it can’t fit completely on the shipyard’s property, but it will be laid down on city property next to the former Belfast Maskers’ building, adjacent to the shipyard.

J.B. Turner, manager of the shipyard, told councilors at the regular meeting that taking down the masts of the Asolare and the Axia on Saturday will necessitate a temporary rerouting of pedestrian traffic on the Belfast Harbor Walk, which normally passes right through the shipyard. The Asolare was hit by lightning earlier this summer, Turner said, which caused the vessel to run aground, causing major damage. He said the Axia mast, which also needs repairs, is smaller, topping out at 130 feet.

He told safety-minded councilors that his crews would police the area to make sure that the heavy masts and curious passers-by do not come into close contact with each other. He also told City Manager Joe Slocum that the shipyard will be responsible for the masts while they remain on city property for the next two or three months.

“We’re insuring them,” Turner said.

When City Councilor Mike Hurley asked what the shipyard would do if the former Maskers’ property is redeveloped, Turner said that his business would either figure something else out — or turn down work from ships with very long masts.

In other business, councilors briefly discussed various proposals to improve drainage of Seaview Terrace, shortly after resident Laurie Allen spoke at some length during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Allen has appeared in front of the councilors before with her concerns about water problems on her road, often using strong language to express her worries that the stream behind her house erodes her land during heavy rainstorms and spring runoff.

“Stop flushing the residents into a cesspool,” Allen said Tuesday night.

The City Council held a special meeting at the end of August to learn about options to improve drainage on the residential, dead-end road. The Olver Associates analysis presented then provided several options to the city. The most expensive, adding up to about $150,000, would drain pipes and culverts and run the water out to Northport Avenue. Less expensive options included constructing drains, or ditching and adding culverts, with the cheapest costing about $45,000, not including the expense of repaving the road.

Slocum said at Tuesday night’s meeting that he would meet with residents of the road Wednesday to discuss the possibilities, but he hadn’t heard the councilors say they want to spend $45,000 or more on just one road. The street is scheduled to be repaved soon and have culverts replaced anyway, he said

“I can tell you that roads crack all over the city. Seaview Terrace is not unique,” he said. The council took no action on the matter.

After the meeting, Hurley said that it would be unfair to do more work on that road than anywhere else in town.

“The water that is standing in people’s front lawns is no worse than it is on hundreds of lawns around Belfast,” he said.

 

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