Belfast officials authorized the city to enter into an agreement with a Camden-based engineering firm for the purpose of conducting a study to determine how the city can maximize space in the Inner Harbor.

City Manager Joseph Slocum asked councilors Tuesday, April 1, to allow him to enter into an agreement with Gartley and Dorsky Engineering for the purpose of studying the Inner Harbor in an effort to identify how Belfast can better use the available space and accommodate all of the various stakeholders.

Slocum said the Harbor Advisory Committee and Harbormaster Kathy Pickering support the hiring of Gartley and Dorsky Engineering to conduct the study.

During a meeting in January, Pickering told councilors the increasing demand for space in the Inner Harbor is becoming a significant issue that must be addressed.

According to a memorandum from Gartley and Dorsky, the scope of work the firm would complete would include a survey of existing conditions in the Inner Harbor in regards to moorings and floats; locating significant features along the shore that may impact the channel; providing ranges or established points on land that can be used to re-create specific channel points; and locating the beginning section of the Armistice Footbridge.

The scope of work also includes a survey of the study area to verify current water depths; creating an existing conditions plan; and conducting individual meetings with stakeholders.

Those stakeholders include city staff, Front Street Shipyard, tug boat captains and owners, charter boat captains and owners, fishermen, commercial vessels and the harbor committee.

As a final component of the study, Gartley and Dorsky will create a master plan showing the new float and mooring layout and final channel location. They will also provide a construction and management study to estimate potential construction costs, rental and fee options, maintenance, managing repairs, and float winter storage, according to the memo.

Gartley and Dorsky estimate the work, which began in March, will take approximately four months to complete.

The cost of the study is estimated to be $19,759. Slocum said the money to pay for the study will be taken from the John Enk Trust.

Slocum noted in his manager's report the town of Camden hired Gartley and Dorsky to conduct a similar study and the municipality was able to maximize the space available in its harbor for all of its users.

Councilor Roger Lee praised the effort by the city to pursue an independent consultant to study space issues in the Inner Harbor and said he is glad to see the project is moving forward after efforts in previous years to do similar work has not yielded any results.

Councilors approved the agreement between the city and Gartley and Dorsky 4-0 with Councilor Eric Sanders absent for the vote.

In other business

Councilors were updated on plans by Central Maine Power to trim trees in the city over the next six months. The company hired Lucas Tree to do the trimming and the intent is to cut back new growth that has occurred over the past five years. However, if a tree is dead or in danger of impacting the wires, it will be targeted for removal.

If residents have any questions about the trimming they can contact City Hall or CMP. Anyone who would like to schedule a consultation prior to the trimming should contact CMP.