BLUE HILL, Maine — Selectmen have applied for a state permit to proceed with a planned rebuild of the town wharf located off Water Street behind the fire station.
The project has been in discussion for several years, and the permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is the last hurdle before work can begin.
According to Selectman Dwayne Gray, the town already has the necessary funds for the project. Voters last fall authorized the town to borrow up to $228,250, the estimated cost to replace the wharf.
Although the selectmen initially sought grant funding for the project, they only could get approval for bond funding through the state, Selectman Jim Schatz said.
“That’s essentially the same as borrowing,” Schatz said Friday. “We were able to get as good a term from a local bank, so we borrowed the funds locally.”
The project, which will replace the existing wharf, will include adding granite facing to the structure. Schatz indicated that the selectmen plan to act as the general contractor for the project and subcontract most of the wharf work.
“We plan to do it internally as much as possible,” he said. “We felt we would have more control and that it would benefit local contractors more.”
The wharf reconstruction is a companion project to the expansion of parking adjacent to the wharf. Voters approved the funding for that project last fall, and most of that work has been done, according to Schatz.
“We’ve done all the groundwork,” he said. “We just need to finish up the paving this spring.”
The work on the wharf does not include any dredging in the harbor. Dredging the inner harbor to provide all-tide access to the wharf has been discussed on and off for years, and in recent years, that idea has been revived.
“We still have hope,” Gray said Friday.
He noted that there was dredging going on nearby at Bass Harbor in Tremont, but it appears that dredging in Blue Hill is still some time away.
The town has requested a study of the harbor to determine the feasibility of a dredging project, but, according to Schatz, has not had a response to that request, and no one from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been in town to inspect the harbor.
The replacement of the wharf, which would accommodate all tide activity if a dredging project ever develops, will move ahead this year once the town obtains the DEP permit.
The selectmen expect the work to be done this summer.