TREMONT — The owners of F.W. Thurston Company presented a proposal last week to the Harbor Committee that would reconfigure the town’s float system to better accommodate their plans for a marina next to the Bernard Town Wharf.
What ultimately happens, however, could depend on a survey of the boundary line between the properties.
Michael Radcliffe and Derek Lapointe are proposing to add floats to accommodate 10 boats onto the north end of their property on Bass Harbor. F.W. Thurston buys and sells lobsters and operates Thurston’s Lobster Pound. The plan has been criticized for limiting the access of fishing boats to the adjacent town wharf.
Setback rules require that there be at least 50 feet between the north end of the Thurston project and the southernmost floats off the Bernard Wharf. That distance is maintained in the March 21 sketch plan for the project, but some Harbor Committee members have said in the past that larger fishing boats would have difficulty getting to the wharf under certain conditions.
Complicating the matter is the littoral line – the legal boundary that extends into the water – between the properties. According to the surveyor hired by Thurston’s, most of the town’s southern floats are on the Thurston side of the line. This has led Radcliffe and Lapointe to propose that the town move their floats for better access. In response, the town hired its own surveyor.
At the June 29 Harbor Committee meeting, Town Manager Dana Reed told members that the survey, being done by Mike Avery, has not been completed.
At that meeting, Radcliffe and Lapointe presented a plan that would move the town’s floats so they are connected to the northeast side of the wharf. A ramp would lead to two large floats, with finger floats coming off the outermost float in a T-shape. The proposal didn’t sit well with some committee members.
“We can’t do that,” said committee member and fisherman Scott Harper. “It sticks out in the channel too far.” As a result, the floats would impede access, especially to one of the two hoists on the wharf used by lobster fishermen, he added.
Harbormaster Justin Seavey noted the cost to the town if the plan were to be executed.
“We’re looking at $30,000 in pilings and dolphins,” he said. Seavey agreed with Harper that the plan does put the floats further into the channel. One mooring would have to be moved, he added.
The committee took no action on the proposal. Chairman Mel Atherton thanked Radcliffe and Lapointe for attending and said the committee would wait for Avery to complete his survey before considering the matter further.
In an interview earlier this month, Lapointe said he wants to work with the town to find a reasonable solution.
“I don’t want to make [the town wharf] any less accessible,” he said.
The marina must meet with approval from the submerged lands division of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before construction can get underway, Lapointe said. Both agencies would like to have any local issues settled before issuing permits, he added.
Electricity and possibly water would be available to boaters tying up at the marina. Fuel is not expected to be offered, he said.
Given the preliminary work that must be accomplished, construction is not expected to begin anytime soon.
“It would be optimistic to think we’d begin next spring,” Lapointe said.