Boothbay Harbor Waterfront Preservation President Bob McKay said that after a well-received pre-application discussion with the planning board April 8, BHWP is a step closer to giving the east side of the harbor its own waterfront park and working waterfront hub. McKay said planning board members seemed to all be in favor of the park project presented.
“I was very pleased with the response … There were several questions they had that need to be clarified, but I believe everything will be satisfied to enable us to move forward and build the park in the manner that was presented to the public from the start.”
Asked via email April 15 how the discussion went, Code Enforcement Officer Geoff Smith responded: "I think that there has clearly been a lot of work and passion put into the conceptualization of what the park might become. As with any projects looked at during the pre-application phase, there are a few things that will need to be explored in more detail, so that we can be sure the project is adhering to all applicable state and local laws, rules and regulations. I will work with (the project’s landscape architect Mitchell Rasor of MRLD Landscape Architecture + Urbanism) and the (Department of Environmental Protection) to iron out some of the issues related to Shoreland Zoning, and I am confident that they will be in a position to move forward with a formal application soon."
BHWP closed on the former Cap’n Fish’s Motel property last October for $2.85 million after months of fundraising for the vision presented at the pre-application discussion. Nearly 650 contributions totaled $3.22 million, including $500,000 set aside for future maintenance.
BHWP has hosted an open house for community members to take motel furnishings, completed an asbestos evaluation and removal, rented out winter dock space to several local lobstermen, worked with Blake’s Boatyard to winterize floats, finalized a site plan and had preliminary talks with the DEP and Smith. Demolition is set to begin after the project gets planning board approval.
Rasor said the project honors the harbor’s character with green space, generous vistas and strategic alignment with existing working waterfront uses, and is a great example of the “right place at the right time.”
“What might appear as a beautiful green space is actually a wise investment in the future of Boothbay Harbor. All coastal communities are looking for ways to innovate within their means in order to address big issues like demographics and climate change. Eastside Waterfront Park is such an innovation.”
Rasor said the park is designed to expand the working waterfront, increase public access and complement the tourism-based economy. The design includes housing, a grocery market and an expanded marina, said Rasor.
McKay said the park will enhance the beauty of one of Maine’s greatest historic harbors and will help invite more people, especially young families, to come.
“The park, along with its free short-time docking … will draw more and more boaters into the harbor. The dedicated working waterfront pier which borders the existing Town Fish piers fits in with the working waterfront on the east side of the harbor. The park will also encourage people to walk across the foot bridge and take a short walk along Atlantic Avenue, rather than turn around and walk back across the bridge … The community park will enable so many more to enjoy the spectacular unencumbered views of the islands and historic Boothbay Harbor.”