A concept site plan by Coplon Associates for the portion of the Bar Harbor Ferry Terminal not leased to Bay Ferrries. It includes a boat launch (lower right) and kayak launch (dark arm with right angle). IMAGE COURTESY OF THE TOWN OF BAR HARBOR

Ferry terminal planning update

BAR HARBOR — When the town decided in 2018 to purchase the Eden Street ferry terminal property from the state and to lease a portion of it to Bay Ferries for five years, the Town Council tasked an expanded Harbor Committee with planning the development of the remaining portion for public use. 

This week, the topic came to the council for the first time in a long time with a proposal for a structural integrity assessment of the existing pier and plans to pave the town’s portion of the site and possibly build a boat launch ramp. 

The council approved a Harbor Committee recommendation to contract with Portland-based GEI Consultants for the structural integrity assessment.  

The assessment will answer questions such as, “If we need to use some of the [existing] I-beams, are they capable of holding a load and what would that load be?” Harbormaster Charlie Phippen told councilors. 

The firm bid $58,0000 on the project and plans to complete the work by early November. 

Councilors said the paving and boat launch project is premature since the Harbor Committee is nowhere near deciding how the property should best be used. The committee only saw the concept site plans from Coplon Associates at its last meeting. 

“Who’s driving this?” Councilor Gary Friedmann asked. 

“I thought we’d do some paving up there to make it a little more presentable,” Town Manager Cornell Knight said. “Then I was told if you’re going to pave, then you ought to get some engineering done” to determine where streetlights, electric charging stations, etc., could be placed. The town employed CES to do that (engineering), and they talked to Sam (Copland) to discuss where a boat launch would go.” 

The town will be required to provide some parking spaces to Bay Ferries outside the leased area when the ferry is running, but Knight said there’s no obligation to do the paving on any particular timeline. 

A 40-member Ferry Terminal Property Advisory Committee went through an intensive process in 2017 to discuss priorities for the site. Councilor Jill Goldthwait said using nearly the whole public portion of the property for parking eliminates “the part of the proposal that was most attractive to our community,” which is a marina or other similar use. 

The ferry company’s footprint on the property has changed slightly, Coplon noted; the site plan was modified this year to have a secondary inspection area enclosed in a building rather than an open pavilion. 

The council voted unanimously to ask the Harbor Committee to report back with prioritized concept ideas for uses of the site by the end of the year and a master plan for the site by April 2021. 

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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