Searsport wins $250,000 SHIP grant

By Dan West | Feb 04, 2014

Searsport — The Maine Department of Transportation has awarded a $250,000 grant to Searsport toward reconstruction of the town wharf.

The town will contribute $605,000 toward the project. In November voters approved $475,000 in new spending for the project, with the remainder  of the money coming from surplus funds. The town has also applied for a federal grant for boating infrastructure of $62,752, which Town Manager James Gillway said has yet to be awarded.

Searsport was awarded the $250,000 as part of Maine's Small Harbor Improvement Program Wednesday, Jan. 29. The last SHIP grant the town received was for $75,000 in 2008 to perform engineering work on the town wharf reconstruction project.

Gillway said the town had been seeking grant money to complete the wharf project for more than a decade. In 1996 the wharf was badly damaged by a severe storm, according to Gillway. Due to the cost of repairing the wharf the town elected to perform the repairs in five stages. The first three stages were completed by 2002; however, the remaining work had stalled.

With the engineering done, the town reapplied for the SHIP grant, asking for less than they had in the past.

"We did our homework," Gillway said. "We had to pony up a little bit more money, but we also pushed them to their maximum."

Now that the town has received the money to go forward, Gillway said it could move quickly. With the engineering work already completed the town will be able to put the work out to bid this winter or early spring. Gillway said he hoped the work would be able to be completed by boating season. The town will need to replace around 100 feet of the wharf's main structure, as well as replace some of its floating docks and repair or replace the water lines, electrical system and lighting. Without the repairs Gillway said he did not think the wharf could open for business next season.

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