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There’s new hope for Mainers fighting to save working waterfronts — State — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

There’s new hope for Mainers fighting to save working waterfronts — State — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

In Maine’s decades-long battle over working waterfront, builders have persistently held a definite money benefit over fishermen.

That hasn’t modified, so advocates for making certain that sufficient Maine piers and wharves stay out there to protect the state’s embattled maritime workforce have adopted new techniques. And there’s hope the state might release more money quickly for working waterfront preservation.

When Portland’s metropolis council earlier this month enacted a six-month moratorium on non-marine-related improvement alongside the town’s working waterfront, even The New York Occasions paid consideration.

The moratorium resulted from a signature-collecting effort for a referendum that might search to reinstate a requirement that each one new tasks within the waterfront zone be water-dependent, a rule that might successfully block new development of inns, eating places and workplaces, which have proliferated within the space in current many years.

Amongst different developments, the petition was triggered by a $40 million improvement undertaking — four-story lodge, retail outlets, workplace area and a parking storage — proposed for Fisherman’s Wharf.

The undertaking is just one at present proposed for Portland’s waterfront, now largely lined with condominiums, eating places and workplace buildings.

The Portland waterfront can also be critically necessary to different fishing communities all through the state. The town is residence to the fish change and seafood consumers, vessel providers, bait sellers and lots of communities so far as Port Clyde nonetheless purchase all their ice from Portland.

“Without ice, you don’t have seafood,” Ben Martens, government director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Affiliation, stated.

However fishermen and others who make their dwelling on Maine’s working waterfront have been on alert for almost 20 years that valuable few miles of Maine’s coast stay obtainable for business fishing, an business that in 2017 generated $569 million in landed worth and greater than $1 billion in financial exercise.

‘A firestorm’

In 2008, the Island Institute launched its seminal report, “ The Last 20 Miles: Mapping Maine’s Working Waterfront.” The report, based mostly on a number of years of group mapping, discovered that of 142 coastal cities and 5,300 miles of shoreline, solely about 20 miles of working waterfront entry remained. Moreover, 15 % of the coastal cities reported having no public entry to the shore.

Extra just lately, the Maine Working Waterfront Coalition, a gaggle of business, nonprofits, state businesses and others, reported that solely 25 miles of Maine’s 5,300 miles of coast are devoted to business fishing exercise — zero.36 %. This 25 miles helps greater than 26,000 fishing-related jobs and sustains an business value greater than $740 million. Boat builders, boatyards and marinas make use of one other Three,000 individuals, producing $85 million in wages, the group reported.

“Maine has a lot of coastal development issues not specific to working waterfront,” stated Matthew Nixon, deputy director of the Maine Coastal Program, which oversees the working waterfront program. “Coastal flooding, all those issues piled on top of increased coastal development creates a firestorm for working waterfront.”

A decade in the past, voters permitted bond funding for a Working Waterfront Entry Safety Program (WWAPP). By awarding funding to buy a covenant held by the DMR, an easement on a property that provides the holder entry in perpetuity.

In the course of the first two years main working waterfront wharves akin to Holbrook’s in Cundy’s Harbor and the Port Clyde Fishermen’s Co-op have been protected, together with 13 different tasks, in accordance to Land for Maine’s Future.

However in 2011, awards for funding slowed dramatically, with solely 5 tasks within the subsequent three years, and since 2014, the bond funds have been unavailable. A request for proposals in 2015 yielded no funding, in accordance to Nixon, and funding for a single venture in 2016 was withdrawn.

Shifts and delays

When Gov. Paul LePage abolished the State Planning Workplace in 2012, the working waterfront program, a part of Land for Maine’s Future, was moved to the Division of Agriculture, after which final yr to the Division of Marine Assets.

Then, lower than a month in the past, not lengthy after Mainers elected Democrat Janet Mills as their subsequent governor, the Division of Marine Assets issued a request for proposals for up to $2 million in working waterfront tasks.

In accordance to the Division of Marine Assets, the delay in awarding funding since 2011 has been due to paperwork — transferring administration of the proposals from Coastal Enterprises Inc. to the DMR, which was required to depend on present employees. However vacancies within the division meant there have been no employees to solicit tasks, spokesman Jeff Nichols stated, and “Commissioner [Patrick] Keliher had no alternative but to hold off on seeking new proposals until the department created the staff capacity to administer the solicitations.”

Till 2013, the working waterfront program awarded $5.Three million to protect 25 properties — fishing co-ops, personal shopping for stations and municipal wharves, amongst others — which help about 670 boats, 1,100 fishermen and 1,200 households, in accordance to WWAPP knowledge.

Annual landings supported by these properties totaled roughly $48 million.

New life?

Nixon, of the working waterfront program, stated Thursday that he sees the request for proposals as an encouraging signal this system might once more assist the state keep its threatened useful resource.

“Working waterfronts are a very important piece of the extraordinary mosaic that is Maine’s coast,” Nixon stated in an e-mail. “In addition to the obvious direct and indirect economic value they provide to the state of Maine and the communities where they are located, some of these places are truly cultural treasures that represent Maine’s maritime heritage. … I’m very happy to continue the Maine Coastal Program’s tradition of ensuring Maine’s coastal waters will always be accessible for everyone and that our fishing communities will always have a place to land their catch.”

Small cities, massive modifications

Portland is way from the one Maine waterfront group in battle over waterfront improvement. Maybe much more weak to improvement than Portland’s waterfront, Boothbay Harbor has seen dramatic modifications to its waterfront up to now few years, most from liquor magnate Paul Coulombe of Southport. The magnitude of the event drew the eye of the statewide historic preservation group Maine Preservation.

Coulombe, who constructed an 18,000-square-foot mansion on Pratt’s Island off close by Southport, bought and redeveloped the previous Boothbay Harbor Nation Membership and the previous Rocktide Inn and Restaurant into the Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Nation Membership, has stated he’s invested $100 million within the city. He now leads an effort to rezone the east aspect of the harbor — and far of the city’s Maritime Zone — right into a restricted business district, which might permit lodges, leisure marinas and housing.

Coulombe was set to buy one other giant property, Cap’n Fish motel and restaurant, and in a launch revealed within the Boothbay Register in October stated he’d invested $500,000 in nonrefundable deposits, so as to construct $30 million in a “new hotel, restaurant and world-class conference center” on the location.

Coulombe has insisted that present accomodations on the town gained’t appeal to world vacationers, and argues that his renovations have and would bolster the city’s tax coffers.

However a key a part of Coulombe’s imaginative and prescient for the east aspect of the harbor was thwarted in November when a gaggle generally known as the Boothbay Area Maritime Basis bought the close by Sea Pier with a restrictive covenant that limits the use to “working waterfront.”

Deanne Tibbetts, a member of the inspiration whose husband lobsters out of close by Southport, stated on the time, “The fishing heritage is very important to me. … It’s not just the working waterfront. It really, really is heritage. It’s about keeping your sense of community. That’s what I see as the greatest threat here. It isn’t so much losing a piece of land where people can get to the waterfront. It’s a whole culture that [would] be impacted by losing that waterfront.”

Citing Boothbay Harbor as “a prime example” of endangered working waterfront, Maine Preservation has requested the city to re-examine the way it manages its historic and cultural assets, and advisable the city replace its complete plan.

“This zoning change would open a key stretch of working waterfront to economic pressures that could forever alter the historic character of this area, and significantly impact the viability of marine-based industries in Boothbay Harbor,” Maine Preservation wrote.

Nonetheless, tasks already facilitated by the Working Waterfront Entry Safety Program supply indicators of hope for communities nonetheless in battle.

In 2008, the village of Port Clyde celebrated a restored and expanded historic city wharf, constructed for about $500,000 with funds from the WWAPP.

The Port Clyde Lobstermen’s Cooperative bought improvement rights to the state so the dock would stay working waterfront in perpetuity.

Gerry Cushman, who has lobstered out of the co-op for about 30 of his 40 years, stated members of the co-op opted to construct a new dock “to also help other fisheries like ground fishing, shrimping, scalloping and herring fishing.”

Immediately, scallopers, tuna fishermen and others additionally unload on the dock.

Cushman, whose grandfather was among the many fishermen to discovered the co-op, stated, “this is a place for me to unload my catch. But when I’m done, I’ll just pass it along to the next generation.”

This summer time, the city of St. George, which incorporates the village of Port Clyde, narrowly accredited a $2.6 million wharf improve with the objective of preserving entry to the working waterfront.

“St. George is definitely ahead of the curve,” Cushman stated of working waterfront points. “It seems to be a proactive town.”

In 2010, city officers in Owls Head realized that a 50-year-old lease on a Three-foot-wide easement for foot visitors alongside a wharf was doubtless not a sustainable answer for fishermen.

In June 2016, the city bought, for $305,000, simply greater than 1 acre of waterfront property, to guarantee continued public entry to the water for business fishermen and others.

The Owls Head undertaking was “a good example of a community beginning to realize that they haven’t publicly owned a wharf in town before,” Nixon stated. The city is present process design work for a public wharf on the property they bought, he stated.

And again in 2006, the primary challenge funded by the WWAPP, Holbrook’s wharf in Cundy’s Harbor, has seen Holbrook Group Basis rebuild and enhance the wharf, added a new constructing for business fishermen, and rehabilitated different buildings on the property together with a seasonal restaurant and basic retailer.

Regardless of their early motion, working waterfront in Harpswell isn’t safe. In 2017, Portland actual property developer Arthur Girard outbid the house owners of Prepare dinner’s Lobster & Ale Home to buy the Bailey Island wharf adjoining to the restaurant.

Girard, who paid $510,000 for the wharf, stated on the time he wasn’t positive what he’d do with the property, which for many years has operated as a business fishing wharf for native lobstermen.

Nick and Jennifer Charboneau, house owners of Prepare dinner’s, stated on the time, “as long as they do the work and maintain the wharf and make it a safer place and take care of the people who work there,” they’d be glad.

Jennifer Charboneau stated Thursday that neither she nor her husband has heard of any plans to develop the wharf.

“He’s done some work on the wharf — not a ton — and has focused more on the lobstermen who fish there, as he should, and he’s done some work to the ferry side to make it more safe,” she stated. “I don’t believe he has any plans to do anything other than what he initially promised, and I hope that stays true.”