State may provide grant to Spruce Head Co-op

Jun 22, 2019
Photo by: File photo The Spruce Head Fisherman's Cooperative.

Spruce Head Island — The Spruce Head Fisherman's Co-op is in line to get another state grant aimed at preserving working waterfronts.

The Land for Maine’s Future Board announced Friday, June 21, in a news release that it had selected six projects it said would help protect and sustain Maine’s working waterfront.

The Spruce Head Fisherman’s Co-op, 275 Island Road, South Thomaston, will use the $276,000 allocated by the board to pay off a loan used to purchase adjacent property, which will be used to expand parking and storage for the co-op’s 54 members.

The co-op will then refinance the property and use the money to install a bait freezer that will help the members address potential bait shortages.

Through the Working Waterfront Access Protection Program, funds have been set aside to purchase development rights, through a legally binding agreement between the state and working waterfront owners, which will ensure that the property remains available to support commercial fishing or aquaculture activities.

In 2010, the program provided $166,250 for the members of the cooperative to purchase the cooperative property from its owner, who was a member.

The grant was $308,750 less than the originally proposed $475,000 grant that the board approved in 2007. That was challenged by neighboring Atwood Lobster Co., sparking an investigation that led to disciplinary action against the appraisal company that conducted the first appraisal in 2006.

The other projects selected by the board in its June 21 announcement are:

The Stonington Co-op, 51 Indian Point Road, Stonington, has received a preliminary allocation of $216,250 under the program. The funds will be used to conduct site work that will improve shipping and receiving of lobsters and bait. The co-op’s plans include the construction of a 2,000-square-foot wharf that will allow boats to unload light gear and will provide 12 additional parking spaces. The site currently supports 40 fishing vessels that harvest lobster and scallops and the expansion will also allow the co-op to provide additional shoreside resources for aquaculture operations.

Wotton’s Lobster Wharf LLC in New Harbor plans to use funds awarded by the LMF Board to install an above-ground fuel tank, additional bait storage, and a new float with lobster crate storage at its 86 Southside Road, New Harbor, location. Wotton’s Wharf is currently used by four vessels year-round for lobster and bluefin tuna fishing. By improving infrastructure, the project offers the potential to add four additional full-time fishing crews and vessels. Its preliminary allocation totals $68,750.

A preliminary allocation of $301,500 has been given to the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation, which it will use for the demolition and reconstruction of Carter’s Wharf, 87 Atlantic Ave., Boothbay Harbor. Carter’s Wharf is home to 30 lobster fishing vessels and a lobster-buying station run by Luke’s Lobster. The new wharf could potentially serve an additional 10 to 15 vessels as well as aquaculture operations and allow other types of fish to be landed, including crab and tuna.

Lobster co-op Interstate Lobster Inc. in Harpswell will use funds allocated by the LMF Board to support the demolition, replacement and expansion of the existing wharf at 241 Ash Point Road. The project will improve the structural integrity of the wharf, built in 1978 and suffering from cracked and split underpinnings, which have cost the co-op $10,000 to $30,000 per year to maintain. The wharf supports 21 co-op members and 20 additional boats that land lobsters, scallops and menhaden. Its preliminary allocation totals $155,000.

The town of Jonesport, home to 500 commercial fishermen, has received a preliminary allocation of $118,750, which it will use for site design and engineering, access road and parking development, and installation of a boat ramp and two floats at Henry’s Point, currently the location of a campground. The site will continue to support recreational activity, but its development as a commercial site will relieve pressure on a nearby state-owned marina, which provides the only public boat access in Jonesport.

Preliminary allocations represent board support for the projects. Before funds are disbursed, applicants must submit an appraisal and complete all real estate due-diligence to the satisfaction of the state.

The Working Waterfront Access Protection Program is part of the Land for Maine’s Future Program. The Working Waterfront Access Protection Program fund was first capitalized by a bond originally passed in 2005 and has been renewed three times since by Maine voters. Funds are allocated by the LMF Board to support projects that sustain access to the waterfront for commercial fishing and aquaculture in exchange for development rights through a legal document called a Working Waterfront Covenant. To-date, 25 properties have received funds through the program.

The program is administered by the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Land for Maine’s Future Program.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jun 22, 2019 13:28

Kudos to the funding and for the fishermen who continue to fish and preserve the right to continue fishing the waters of Maine.

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