East Side Waterfront Park progresses

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 12:15pm

Boothbay Region Waterfront Preservation’s East Side Waterfront Park has come a long way since demolition of the old Cap’n Fish’s motel buildings. BHWP President John O’Connell said many might argue the contrary considering the landscape only appears to have the paving peeled back, but a lot of the work over the past year is underground.

Said O’Connell, “We went down to the Railway Village the weekend of the Fourth, we had a picture of the Waterfront Park there and people were excited, saying, 'Wow, really, you're going to do that? That's going to be so cool.' We got great response, but when I said there is some negativity, what I got was, 'Nah, you'll always get negativity’ … Of course more would be done if not for the pandemic, but that’s everyone right now.”

Orders for materials are often piecemeal so portions for every customer are fulfilled to keep projects going. Construction material shortages are a nationwide problem due to the production and shipping shortage the pandemic caused, O’Connell said. Even the quarries are struggling to fill the many large orders for granite, what masons are using to build a wall surrounding the splash pad.

My Splash Pad of Ohio built the splash pad, he said. The company spent a week installing the pumping, filtration and foundational work. The work could not have been done without the generosity of contractor Jody Lewis, who is also heavily involved with the project, O’Connell said.

“Jody has just been tremendous. He let the splash pad people use his equipment when he wasn't there, and he was super responsive when all the bricks arrived. Our many local contractors have been extremely cooperative.”

O’Connell said Lewis still has things to go like grading, trenching and irrigation of repurposed water from the pad before bricks are laid, grass seed, trees and shrubs planted and the splash pad fired up. With many excited board members with passions for different projects, O’Connell said he is confident that while outside work continues, focus will turn to some of the interior work, specifically the ground-level area which is lower than needed for handicap-accessible bathrooms. “We’ll have to drill,” O’Connell said. “We can’t go up without raising the entire second floor … so, we’re going to have to go down about a foot.”

BHWP board member Ellen Newton said other interior work in Hodgdon House will include the future general store on the first floor, two apartments on the third floor and the old Cod’s Head building which will be turned into a pavilion to get out of the sun and to hold private events. Newton said when the park is finished, it will be a truly vital addition to public access and commercial fishing access.

“And you think about Boothbay Harbor during Windjammer Days and fireworks at Fourth of July, if you don't go to a restaurant, you crowd in at the church lawn or the footbridge or Whale Park. We can hold six times as many people right here in the park and they won't be right on top of one another.”

Newton and O’Connell said it is important to BHWP to have the park nearly complete before opening it to the public and that will not be until next year, most likely. However, they want the public to understand a lot of work has already gone into the park.

“You know, if you don't get the foundation right, forget it,” said O’Connell. “You have to do it properly. Eventually all the results will show on the surface and that's the big thing.”

Said Newton, “We really worked very hard at trying to figure out exactly what we need in 10 years. We try to plan ahead and I think we've done really well.”