Controversial pilings protrude from the water at Popham Beach in Phippsburg on Tuesday, just hours before work crews arrived to remove them.

More than a year after a state environment board rejected efforts by the town of Phippsburg and a group of nearby residents to save historic pilings poking up from the waters off Popham Beach, crews began removing them Tuesday.

Jack and Susan Parker, who own a summer home overlooking the 150 pilings, sought and received a state permit to have the pilings removed, arguing they exacerbate beach erosion.

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But objection to the removal was passionate in town, where neighbors Rafael and Victoria Villamil and Ethan DeBery joined the Phippsburg selectmen to appeal the permit.

In their appeal, they argued it’s not clear what effect the removal would have on erosion, that input by other abutters wasn’t adequately sought when granting the permit and that the pilings have historic value, among other points.

The pilings supported an Eastern Steamship Co. pier in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Goodbye to the last of the pilings.

Posted by Barbara Hanley Keltonic on Wednesday, 3 April 2019

In December 2017, the Maine Board of Environmental Protection voted 6-1 to reject the appeal and clear the way for the Parkers — Jack Parker is CEO of Woolwich-based Reed & Reed Construction — to remove the pilings.

At the time, Jack Parker said he had no plans to remove the pilings that year. The permit was granted in 2016, provided the Parkers four years to remove the pilings and required the work to be done between November and April, meaning his window was closing for the work.

[Efforts to stall removal of historic Popham Beach pilings remains in limbo]

Videos circulated on Facebook of the removal work on Tuesday and Wednesday, eliciting dozens of angry comments.

Phippsburg Town Administrator Amber Jones said Wednesday she can’t speak for the town or selectmen, but confirmed the removal work had begun and said, “People are sad.”

“The reaction that I’ve received is that people are sad to see them go,” she said.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.