ELLSWORTH, Maine — An unusually harsh winter has workers pushing to repair Ellsworth’s marina for the start of boating season.
Prock Marine Co. of Rockland workers were aboard the company’s tugboat and portable dock and crane this week replacing 12 of 25 pilings that anchor stationary docks at Ellsworth Harbor Park and Marina. The marina opened on Tuesday, but Harbormaster Adam Wilson expects boaters to come when the weather gets warmer.
The last several months have been atypically cruel to some Maine seacoast areas. Belfast’s harbor got pummelled by a wind storm in October. High seas washed elements of an historical site in Lubec onto Campobello Island in January, the same month that heavy ice damaged a nature center at Acadia National Park.
The most major marina repairs done since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the facility in 1975, Prock’s work began about two weeks ago because the City Council recognized the marina as a priority, said Mark Remick, chairman of the city’s Harbor Commission.
An estimated 55 percent of respondents to a community visioning survey in 2015 named redeveloping Water Street to emphasize river access, visibility and public uses as the city’s second-highest economic development priority. The highest priority was filling empty storefronts before allowing more sprawl. Supporting greater business diversity was third.
Cold temperatures in the brackish waters of the Union River in January caused ice jacking with the pilings. Ice got between the 40- to 60-foot wooden poles and their dolphins — angled support beams — and displaced them, Remick said.
“It was kind of a perfect storm,” Remick said. “We had high tides, bitter cold and lots of ice. It’s not like we’ve never had damage to things. It happens, but never like this. This was severe.”
The repair work could cost as much as $70,000. City officials are seeking grants to offset the bill. Prock moved quickly to jump on the repair work, and without that, the opening of the marina would likely have been delayed several weeks, Remick said.
The repairs are among three projects planned for the marina. A new 6,000-gallon fuel system will be installed this fall and 500 feet of concrete walkway will be added to the 250 feet already there to connect the park to Water Street, Wilson said.
City officials eventually want to connect Indian Point to Main Street, Wilson said.
The marina is a full-time home to more than 50 recreational boats, the largest being the 37-foot motorcraft Whole Lotta Rosie. Another 20 boaters a day on weekends use the marina to transit the river into Union River Bay, Mount Desert Narrows and the Bay of Fundy. The marina has slipways and storage space for kayaks and canoes and rents space for weddings, reunions and parties.
“It’s a little gem,” Wilson said.
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