City authorizes Front Street Shipyard grant submissionRequesting $200,000 in funding
Belfast — City Councilors voted at their Tuesday, Sept. 5, meeting to apply for a Community Development Block Grant on behalf of Front Street Shipyard in the amount of $200,000.
The CDBG Economic Development Program funds will be used to relocate the Belfast Boatyard office building and put it on a new foundation; strengthen the wooden dock where the office building was located; purchase and install a 30-ton capacity crane and build a concrete pad for the crane; and purchase and install a custom-heated spray paint booth.
Front Street Shipyard President J.B. Turner explained to councilors the shipyard is using a make-shift wall with filter decks for spray painting and the business needs more room to lay down masts, which can exceed one hundred feet in length, as well as improve the Belfast Boatyard facilities.
The company will provide $200,000 in matching funds for the grant.
During the public hearing regarding the grant funding, Belfast resident Alan Fishman said he supports what Front Street Shipyard has done for the city, but raised some concerns about the prices the business is charging for service.
“My concern is that there are a number of people who are not financially able to meet the new price points,” Fishman said.
Councilor Roger Lee asked Turner to address the concerns regarding the increase in prices. Turner said he understands the concerns people have with Front Street Shipyard’s price points, but he said the rates are competitive with other businesses in the area.
The increases in costs are partly due to the shipyard’s additional overhead costs, Turner explained. In addition, the owners of the shipyard are using their own money to purchase Belfast Boatyard and former owner Alex Turner is financing the remaining balance. There are also significant costs associated with upgrading the Belfast Boatyard facilities, Turner noted.
“It will cost $125,000 to get the electrical up to code,” he said.
If Front Street Shipyard doesn’t receive the grant funding, Turner said the company would need to prioritize which projects are the most important and put the rest of the improvements off to a later date.
As part of the grant requirements, Front Street Shipyard must create at least seven full-time positions; however, the company is proposing 10 full-time positions. About half of the new positions must be offered to low- and moderate-income individuals as part of the grant requirements.
When considering the proposal to pursue the grant funding, Councilor Nancy Hamilton said the creation of more jobs was something she thought about first. She said the additional jobs would give people who have been unemployed for a long period of time an opportunity to start working again, or allow someone to take a job closer to home.
Councilor Eric Sanders agreed and said he supports the businesses’ pursuit of the grant.
“I think jobs are very important,” he said.
Before voting to authorize the City Manager to submit an application on behalf of Front Street Shipyard to the Department of Economic and Community Development, Delune asked Thomas Kittredge, economic development director, if the city would be ineligible to apply for a similar grant again this year.
Kittredge said the city would have to wait a year before applying, but noted the city has not received money from the specific program that Front Street is now seeking funding through.
Councilors unanimously approved the request to authorize the City Manager to submit an application on behalf of Front Street Shipyard.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.