Committee seeks approval for waterfront improvements

Mon, 03/28/2022 - 3:00pm

Dear Editor:

The Wiscasset Waterfront Committee was awarded a Shore and Harbor Grant in 2020 to study the feasibility of expanding Recreational (Memorial) Pier for recreational boaters, thus giving us the opportunity to share our love of the waterfront and attract boaters to enjoy it as well.

This project’s purpose is to increase recreational waterfront opportunities for residents and the broader community, upgrading the harbor master building with showers and laundry, increase the infrastructure and generate rental revenue from the increased dockage, possibly a coin-operated laundry, a pump out station, and more mooring opportunities. Chief Hesseltine, our new harbor master, has made a big difference. For example, during the last budget cycle, revenues came in 30% over the amount assumed in the budget because he employed consistent methods and followed through. Thanks to Town Manager Dennis Simmons, town departments affected by waterfront projects are in good communication. Needed maintenance has been attended to, bathrooms kept in order, and other waterfront issues resolved.

Let’s keep this momentum going. Though we cannot at this time figure operational costs and small details, our Recreational Pier Expansion Report proposes a conservative 30% revenue stream of $30k. If we should have a more robust year, a 60% revenue stream, the slips (docking) and mooring rental for short term/transient boaters could generate $60k-plus per season. This preliminary report is conservative by design to not over-deliver and under-perform. Policies are to evolve.

Ten years ago, voters approved a bond — repaid by one of our funds — to rebuild our Commercial Pier, in support of commercial fishing. That leap of faith in part landed us a grant to do some necessary upgrades to the Recreational Pier. The debt has been paid and it’s time to go for the next project.

The expansion of the Recreational Pier will provide community benefit — not only offsetting the waterfront expenses, but providing added commerce and opportunity in town. We want this project to bring activity to the waterfront.

The Waterfront Committee implores the selectboard to ask you, the voters, to set aside the needed match for a SHIP grant of possibly $200k, to be “repaid” in 9 to 10 years (conservatively speaking) as we have shown we can do with past investments in the waterfront.

Susan Robson, Dick Forrest and David Gagnon

Wiscasset Waterfront Committee