The town's harbor committee is hoping to add fill to the low-lying parts of the parking lot on the recently-purchased property at the Manset town dock. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Plans for Hook Property improvement moving forward

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Initial improvement plans to the shorefront property and parking lot at the Manset Town Dock are expected to begin this winter and be complete before the start of next summer season.

The parking lot was once owned by Carolyn Hook. At special town meeting in 2017, residents approved the town’s purchase of the property.

Harbormaster Adam Thurston spoke to selectmen during a Nov. 13 meeting about idea for improvements to the property based on a recently-completed survey to mark the highest annual tide line.

After the town’s harbor committee reviewed the survey, they determined there was up to 15 feet in some areas that could be filled in for parking or recreational use.

Initial work will include bringing dirt to the lot to fill in low areas and attempting to bring the lot closer to the level of the road. But before bringing in any fill, the town needs to apply for a permit with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Discussions about improving the lot began earlier this year. The harbor committee presented plans for more ambitious improvements, including a second dock, a larger harbormaster’s office, public restrooms and rocks, or fill, out into the water to expand the parking lot.

Town officials suggested bringing fill from other town projects, including the infrastructure improvement in downtown, to the lot to raise the level to start the project.

“We don’t want to use stuff from our dig projects,” Town Manager Justin VanDongen told selectmen at the meeting. “If we’re going to go to DEP, they’re going to want to see detailed plans.”

Selectmen asked VanDongen to meet with Scott Alley, who heads the town’s public works department, and Thurston to come up with a plan to get started.

VanDongen looked for further guidance from selectmen.

“What time do we want to utilize from town departments to spend on this?” he asked selectmen, noting there is $12,000 in the harbor committee budget for the improvements.

“How would you like to see us progress on this? Twelve thousand dollars isn’t going to get us far.”

Selectmen recommended taking a pile of fill on the location and spreading it out in the lot, reducing the flora at the waterfront and trying to raise the fill as much as possible to help with the decline from the road into the lot. VanDongen told the Islander that his meeting with Thurston and Alley had focused on plans to remove three maple trees at the shoreline and to submit permit requests to the DEP in order to get started on bringing fill to the location.

At the meeting, selectmen Kristin Hutchins and Lydia Goetze encouraged Thurston to work with the Harbor Committee to come up with a plan, including engineering costs, construction and other wishes to include in the FY20 budget discussion.

“I’ve always felt that the Harbor Committee is underfunded,” said Hutchins. “I’d really like to see an ambitious comprehensive plan. I think you have to be able to ask for what you want and be able to defend your asks.”

All present at the meeting agreed whatever work can be done through the winter should begin soon.

“I don’t think the property should sit stagnant,” selectman Ryan Donahue said.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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