Kittery's Government Street Wharf, located between the Corner Pub and Anneke Jans, is in need of repairs. Credit: Rich Beauchesne | Portsmouth Herald

KITTERY, Maine — With $450,000 set aside for the replacement of the Government Street Wharf, the town is revisiting project bids after the lowest came in at $520,000 and the highest $1 million.

Town Manager Kendra Amaral told the Town Council Monday that Bruce Crawford, of the Kittery Port Authority, is working with the lowest bidder to see if the town can bring its bid within “arm’s reach” of the $450,000. The town is also revisiting the possibility of obtaining state funding for the project.

In 2017, the wharf replacement was estimated to come in between $300,000 and $350,000, and the town hoped it ultimately wouldn’t need the entirety of the $450,000.

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In June, voters overwhelmingly approved the replacement of the Government Street Wharf 1,554 to 294 by allocating $450,000 of unassigned funds. The wharf is a commercial fishing pier in the Foreside, used by fishermen and for lobster trap and bait deliveries. It currently requires a full replacement, according to KPA Chairwoman Kelly Philbrook.

A 2017 assessment of the 1955 wharf determined there are “several critical condition issues” that make the structure unable to handle loading normally associated with commercial pier use. If only “basic” repairs were made, the wharf would only be serviceable for an estimated five to 10 more years.

In February, in preparation for the replacement project, the town applied for a Small Harbor Improvement Program grant through the Maine Department of Transportation, but Amaral said those funds may not be awarded until 2020.

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The grant would provide up to 50 percent state funding toward the design and construction of the wharf. Amaral wasn’t aware if the funds can be retroactively applied and noted the town may not be able to wait that long on the project.

On Monday, Amaral told the council she was exploring what state funding options might be available to the town at this point.

Town Councilor Jeffrey Thomson said he still held issue with spending $500,000 of taxpayer money for “a single use, for a commercial use.”

“That pier has got to have some civilian pleasure use, somehow that’s gotta be in the design if we’re spending that kind of money,” he said.

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