An upcoming study will examine flood risk at the Garrison Cove town landing and options to protect the facility. (BILL MULDOON PHOTO)
A grant from a state climate initiative will allow Harpswell to study the risk of flooding at Garrison Cove town landing and plan for upgrades.
Harpswell has joined with the towns of Phippsburg and West Bath, as well as the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership and the New England Environmental Finance Center, to request $28,000 from the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future.
The project will analyze one town landing or wharf in each town and develop cost estimates for upgrades that would protect them against impacts from current and future sea level rise and storm surge.
The state program, the Community Resilience Pilot Project, aims to help towns prepare for the effects of climate change and to develop climate planning models for other municipalities.
While Harpswell and its partners must submit a formal request, the state has guaranteed the funds. In June, the state selected the Harpswell project and two others to kick off the program.
“With increasing storm events, droughts, and rising sea levels, Maine’s climate action plan calls for empowering communities to help them become more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” Hannah Pingree, director of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, said in a June statement. The projects “will help inform the state as it seeks to increase both funding and technical assistance to support crucial resilience planning for Maine’s cities and towns.”
Donations to the Maine Climate Council will pay for the projects. The announcement called the grants a “milestone” in the implementation of the state’s four-year plan for climate action, dubbed “Maine Won’t Wait.”
The engineering firm Baker Design Consultants Inc., of South Freeport, will lead the local project. “The firm has extensive experience in marine engineering and waterfront design,” including work in the area of sea level rise, according to the grant application.
The firm will document the conditions at each property, compare current and projected levels of flooding, determine an acceptable level of flood risk, evaluate options to maintain each property’s usability, prepare recommendations and cost estimates for improvements, and develop an implementation strategy.
The town hopes the process will lead to a second grant to make the improvements recommended in the study.
“The unwritten promise in this whole process is that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” Town Planner Mark Eyerman told the Board of Selectmen on Oct. 21. The state has indicated that it will have money available for construction, he said.
The Garrison Cove town landing consists of a boat launch and parking area near the northern tip of Bailey Island. Improvements to the facility could have benefits beyond flood protection.
Mary Ann Nahf, chair of the Harpswell Climate Resilience Implementation Task Force, said the facility needs repairs regardless of sea level rise. If the town incorporates the recommendations from the study into repair plans, a future grant could address both issues at once.
For their projects, Phippsburg will look at a commercial fishing pier off Bakers Wharf Road, while West Bath wants to examine its Sabino Landing, which provides public access to the water for commercial fishing, aquaculture and recreation.
A grant from the Broad Reach Fund supports the Harpswell Anchor’s reporting on climate change.