Naron opens 'missing link' in Harbor Walk

Market owner surprises 'yacht club' members with wall dismantling activities
By Ethan Andrews | May 19, 2017
Photo by: Ethan Andrews Guests at a private party of the new "Belfast Yacht Club" remove a section of fence between the former coal storage property at 15 Front St. and Heritage Park, opening a public crossing in the long-closed property

Belfast — An hour into the informal first soiree of a new tongue-in-cheek Belfast Yacht Club May 19, Paul Naron got out a hand saw and announced he was opening his waterfront property to public parks on either side.

The move was intended to join two sections of Belfast Harbor Walk separated by private property that necessitated a looping detour in the public path between Heritage Park and Steamboat Landing Park.

Guests on Friday evening took turns sawing through two thick timbers separating Naron's property from the adjacent Steamboat Landing Park while onlookers riffed on Ronald Reagan's Cold War demand, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

The heavy slabs of wood fell loose to cheers from the 30 people assembled for the party, many of whom took the opportunity to stroll over the property line for a look.

Naron, who owns the nearby United Farmers Market of Maine, bought the 0.8-acre waterfront lot at 15 Front St. at the end of March for $1 million from longtime owner Consumers Fuel Co.

The property had been used for coal and fuel storage. There is an active marina on the water. It had not been on the market. Rather, Naron said, the sale came out of informal conversations with Consumers Fuel owner John Holmes.

The city was less successful in its dealings with Consumers Fuel during the construction of the Harbor Walk. The 0.7-mile waterfront promenade mostly follows the scenic former railroad route from Armistice footbridge to Steamboat Landing but veers inland to Front Street for the last segment because the city couldn't get permission to make a straight shot through the former coal storage lot, officials said at the time.

Shortly after Naron bought the waterfront lot, he had a visiting friend paint a sign reading "Belfast Yacht Club" on the side of old garage on the property and sold memberships to the "bull---t club" for $2.

Naron had kept the evening's plans secret to everyone but a friend who started the cuts with a chainsaw earlier in the day.

Speaking before the party, Naron said with evident disbelief that no city officials approached him after he bought the property to ask about his plans. His plan all along, he said, was to open the walkway.

"This is the missing link!" he said.

After exploring the southern opening, Naron's guests cut down a section of the chain-link fence to Heritage Park.

Whether the gesture can function as a shortcut in the Harbor Walk remains to be seen. The physical barriers are gone, but one private lot owned by Haven Properties LLC still stands between Naron's land and Steamboat Landing.

Naron said he didn't have plans to make a formal walkway on his land, or any specific plans. Until he got out the saw Friday evening, he claimed he wasn't sure that he would go through with tearing down the walls on either side of his property.

"I don't ever know what I'm going to do," he said. "I wanted to open it up at least. It's not an official thing, but I don't mind people walking through there."

Paul Naron starts a cut in a pair of large timbers between his property at 15 Front St. and Steamboat Landing Park. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
Guests at a party of "Belfast Yacht Club" cut away timbers at 15 Front St. with the intention of making a public crossing from Steamboat Landing Park to Heritage Park. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
Belfast Yacht Club members walk through a newly cut opening in a short wall along the south side of the former Consumer Fuels property at 15 Front St. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
At the south end of Belfast Harbor Walk, Naron's property, outlined in yellow, lies between two city parks, shown in green. On May 19, Naron opened fences on either side of his property, marked with Xs, in a bid to offer a straight shot, in pink.
Comments (7)
Posted by: Patricia Keyes | May 21, 2017 20:58

Paul has a mind of his own and is full of surprises!  We were just down there last weekend, and were disappointed that the fences were there.  Thanks, Paul!!  What a great thing to do for the fans of the waterfront!

 



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | May 21, 2017 09:33

So cool to now see the visible "open containers" allowed on the Harbor Walk too!!!  I didn't realize it was allowed but now the weather is nice out, I think a cooler with wheels and walking shoes will be great fun!!!  Thank you City of Belfast!!!  Waaaahooooo



Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | May 21, 2017 09:27

Will the City go after this ROW for the Harbor walk too?  Like they did with Penobscot Frozen Foods to "lock" in the ROW?  The access with the current owner is fine, but I believe at some point he or his heirs will want to sell.  Acquiring the ROW in the deed now might be easier with a friendly neighbor, then some large real estate investment trust company down the road.



Posted by: Patricia Moss | May 21, 2017 08:52

What a kind and generous act. Thank you Paul.

Pat Moss

 



Posted by: Alton Bradford | May 20, 2017 19:30

Kudos to you Paul.  So far you have been a great addition to the community.  Keep up the good work.

 



Posted by: Tenley Mossing | May 20, 2017 09:07

Thank you Paul Naron!

 

 



Posted by: from the kitchen | May 20, 2017 04:48

Kudos. Most waterfront property owners do just the opposite.



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