On Aug. 12, Deanne Tibbetts, a resident of Boothbay Harbor, invited a small group of area residents to meet and discuss concerns about the potential loss of working waterfront and, along with that, an important part of their local identity and their maritime heritage. Tibbetts is a descendant of many generations of fishermen from Southport. The purpose of this meeting was not to debate progress, change, economic development, or any specific plans for the east side of Boothbay Harbor but rather to insure that working waterfront and those people that depend on it and care about it have a seat at the table. As a result of that meeting, a second meeting was scheduled on Aug. 15, with Douglas Carter, owner of the Sea Pier on Atlantic Avenue. The small group shared their concerns with Carter and asked if he would consider selling the Sea Pier. Carter agreed.
The group decided that the best course of action would be to create a nonprofit organization with the purpose of preserving maritime heritage, called the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation. This was the only avenue that would ensure that the Sea Pier and other potential properties of maritime significance would be preserved for future generations and could not be sold for individual profit or gain. In addition to preserving working waterfront and providing educational opportunities, these properties would also have the potential to provide public access so that locals and visitors alike could glimpse first hand a way of life that is so important to our region’s identity.
The board members of the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation and members of the fishing community are extremely grateful to Douglas and Becky Carter for their dedication to the fishermen of the Sea Pier and for their desire to see that this very important part of our maritime heritage be preserved. The sale of the real estate includes a restrictive covenant limiting the use of the property as “working waterfront.” Ownership of the property will be transferred to the BRMF early in 2019. The buying station will be maintained as a commercial lobster buying business with improvements planned for the future.
The board members would also like to take this occasion to say how truly indebted they are to the anonymous individuals that responded to their need for financial support. Not only have these individuals provided funds for the purchase of the Sea Pier property but they have pledged to support any necessary renovations. “Most important of all,” said Tibbetts, “they have, through their actions, restored a sense of pride in our working waterfront and the heritage it represents. Those that came before us, whose livelihoods depended on the sea, on fishing, on boat building, and maritime transportation will be honored in our hearts and in our minds when we look at the Sea Pier. It is uplifting to know that people value our way of life and care about our heritage.”
The Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation has been recognized by the state of Maine as a nonprofit corporation, and will be applying to the IRS for recognition as a tax-exempt entity under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Their mission is preserving local maritime heritage by supporting working waterfront, promoting sustainable practices, and embracing the educational opportunities this stewardship provides.
The volunteer board of directors includes Deanne Tibbetts, Tyler Hodgdon, Troy Plummer, Kathy Vise, Larry Knapp, Jennifer Wickline, Maynard Brewer and George Friant. Donations can be made out to the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, who will act as a fiscal sponsor until the IRS paperwork is approved. Questions, considerations, and donations for improvements and educational endeavors, should be directed to BRMaritimeFoundation@gmail.com. Their mailing address is P.O. Box 285, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538.