BUCKSPORT, Maine — An improved public boat launch on Silver Lake and enhancements to the downtown riverfront are on the way thanks to two grants recently awarded to the town of Bucksport.
The town received a $150,000 Community Development Block Grant to fund a new plaza on its Waterfront Walkway, as well as additional signage and paths leading from Main Street to the scenic walk along the Penobscot River. The money will also go toward a facade restoration fund, which will be available for “historically significant” downtown businesses.
A $41,000 Maine Department of Conservation Bureau of Parks and Lands grant will fund the construction of a concrete boat launch at Silver Lake. The Bureau will also provide the town with three 6-foot-by-16-foot floating docks to be installed near the new launch.
Town Manager Michael Brennan said the CDBG money will “improve the waterfront and make downtown more appealing to pedestrian traffic.”
Improvements include the installation of a new plaza at the end of the Waterfront Walkway, near the Verso paper mill. The path will be widened and a large nautical compass “medallion” will be laid into the path, surrounded by benches and flowers.
The compass represents Bucksport’s place at the crossroads of several major Maine municipalities, Brennan said — about 20 miles from Bangor, Belfast and Ellsworth, and 35 miles from both Bar Harbor and Camden.
The boat launch project on Silver Lake is a long time coming, said Bucksport Economic Development Director David Milan.
“Historically, Silver Lake has been serviced by a pretty rudimentary boat ramp,” he said on Monday.
The lake is a popular spot for recreational fishing and boating, and hosts annual bass fishing tournaments twice a year. The current “ramp” is a gravel slope leading from Silver Lake Road into the water. There’s no pavement to be seen, nor any facility typically associated with a boat launch.
The grant from the Bureau of Parks and Lands will cover the cost of construction for a concrete ramp and pavement at the new launch facility. The town will also chip in about $91,000 to create a parking lot at the ramp.
The city will build a walk-in launch for kayaks and canoes 450 feet from the new ramp. The town also will construct a small parking lot at the second launch site, and a path between the two facilities.
The Town Council will formally accept the grants at a meeting on Thursday.