After the town obtained ownership of Mitchell Field from the U.S. Navy, it developed a master plan for the use and management of the property. A key objective of that plan and a subsequent update was the improvement of the waterfront for community use, including the development of facilities for boating. This included the construction of a boat launch. For more than a decade, the town has worked to achieve this objective. The town now has the opportunity to move ahead with waterfront improvements at Mitchell Field.
The proposed Consolidated Waterfront Improvement Project includes the following components:
- A 20-foot-wide all-tide boat launch on the north side of the causeway with launch floats down the causeway side of the ramp (based on recommendations from the Harbor and Waterfront Committee and the Mitchell Field Committee).
- An access drive to and from the boat launch along the edge of the causeway with a turning area at the head of the ramp.
- Handicapped parking adjacent to the boat launch.
- A small stub pier at the end of the causeway to allow for the future installation of a handicapped-accessible ramp and floats if the town ever decides to do that.
- A pedestrian walkway along the south side of the causeway.
- Improved and expanded parking for vehicles with boat trailers.
- Connection of the gravel access road through the lower meadow to the access drive to the boat launch.
The estimated cost for the project has increased significantly over the past two years because of the inflation of construction costs. The estimated 2023 project cost, including construction, a 10% construction contingency, engineering, permitting, and construction oversight, is approximately $850,000. This includes $61,420 that has already been spent for engineering and permitting. The estimated cost for completing the project is approximately $788,000 if the town moves forward soon.
The town has been preparing to fund this project for almost a decade. Town meeting created a capital reserve account for Mitchell Field improvements a number of years ago and has regularly added funds to this account for the waterfront improvements. The account currently has a balance of almost $330,000.
The town has obtained two Small Harbor Improvement Program grants from the Maine Department of Transportation that will reimburse the town for 50% of the project costs up to a maximum reimbursement of $357,250. After deducting the Department of Transportation’s share of prior payments for engineering, the town has approximately $653,000 available for the project. This results in a shortfall of approximately $135,000 to complete the project based on the estimated 2023 costs.
At the annual town meeting on Saturday, March 11, voters will decide whether to raise the $135,000 as part of the town’s 2023 budget.