August 20, 2019
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Man who had historic Popham pilings removed offers to leave them at transfer station ‘so people can pick through them’

Phippsburg selectmen on Wednesday voted unanimously to decline an offer from Popham Beach homeowner Jackson Parker to deliver the historic pilings removed from the beach to the town’s transfer station for anyone who might want them.

Parker, CEO of Woolwich-based Reed & Reed Construction, wrote to the town that he would consider taking them to the transfer station “so people can pick through them.”

“I am told that some folks in town would like to have some of the old piling,” Parker wrote.

But selectmen agreed that while they would like to make the pilings available to anyone who wants them, the potential that the town would be “stuck with” any remaining pilings — which could be expensive to destroy — sealed their decision.

Selectmen thanked Parker for the offer and suggested he find another location where people could retrieve the historic pilings.

In an email Thursday to the Bangor Daily News, Parker wrote that there was no creosote in the pilings. He said he has not yet decided what to do with them and that they are at “an undisclosed location.”

Earlier this month, Parker had the pilings removed from the beach in front of his house.

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

In December 2017, the Maine Board of Environmental Projection voted 6-1 to reject the appeal by the town of Phippsburg and a group of nearby residents to save the 150 pilings jutting from the water in front of the home of that Parker and his wife, Susan, bought in 2012 and subsequently renovated.

In 2016, the Parkers had received a state permit to remove the pilings, arguing that they exacerbate beach erosion.

But objection to the removal was passionate in town, where neighbors Rafael and Victoria Villamil and Ethan DeBery joined 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. But the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, which is made up of citizens nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature, did not find those arguments compelling enough to revoke the permit.

At the time, Parker said he had no plans to remove the pilings that year. The permit gave him until 2020 to remove them.

Members of a Facebook group devoted to Popham Beach have proposed a number of uses for the pilings, including public art, benches and even coasters.

 



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