October 18, 2018
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Another remnant of the Navy’s presence along Maine’s coast is just about gone

HARPSWELL, Maine — Demolition of the former Navy pier at Harpswell’s Mitchell Field is well underway, with crews from Woolwich-based Reed & Reed continuing to dismantle the corroded, decrepit structure.

Following a ceremonial “pierbreaking” in December, Reed & Reed began removing the connecting pier Jan. 19, and then moved a barge with a crane into place, according to town documents.

Days later, workers began to demolish part of the pier at the end of the causeway. Employees of Ray Labbe & Sons are trucking the material from the site.

Several nights later, much of the remainder of the connecting pier collapsed into the sea, which Reed & Reed had expected due to the poor condition of the pier, Mitchell Field steward Don Miskill wrote in a report to the town.

The pier, used as a fuel terminal by the Navy until 1991, was transferred to the town of Harpswell in 2001 along with the rest of the Mitchell Field property. The Mitchell Field complex, named after former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, encompasses nearly 120 acres off Harpswell Neck Road, including more than 2,500 feet of shoreline.

Voters at the 2017 town meeting approved spending up to $5 million to remove the pier. Reed & Reed won the contract with a bid of $3.5 million. The contract requires that the pier be demolished by 2019, but the company expects to complete work in the fall of 2018, according to Deputy Town Administrator Terri Sawyer.

Town officials hope removing the pier will allow safe navigation of the area and “will open the door to redevelopment of the waterfront at a scale that complements current recreational use and ongoing plans for a multi-use municipal waterfront,” according to documents.

A Mitchell Field Capital Reserve Account, to pay for improvements to the waterfront, currently contains just more than $200,000, Sawyer said. Voters will have to approve any use of those funds.

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