KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — The town recently nabbed a big catch, reeling in a $2.2 million federal grant to assist with local efforts to renovate the Cape Porpoise Pier.
US Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced last week that her department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $2.2 million grant to Kennebunkport to support the region’s commercial fishing industry and ensure its resilience to storms and floods.
“The money will be used to renovate the existing pier, replace the aging bait building, upgrade our fuel system, and add a float system to better accommodate the current usage of the harbor,” Chris Mayo, the town’s harbormaster, said on Tuesday.
The timber-framed pier is in good shape, but needs re-decking, according to Mayo. The seawall under the bait building is failing and has had an emergency repair.
The bait building is old and inefficient, Mayo added.
“To repair the filled area beneath it and sure up the seawall, it needs to be removed,” he said.
More:York Hospital Recovery Center receives $155K for opioid addiction services. Need is great.
The grant is a reimbursement-type one, so the town will submit invoices to the federal government for payment, according to Mayo.
Mayo said the town hopes to work on the project this fall and winter, but exact start dates will not be known until a contractor is selected.
“Timetables are tricky with large projects,” he said.
Booming market:York County homes continue to sell above asking price; low inventory part of ‘new normal’
Mayo said he is “thrilled” that the town has been awarded the grant.
“The pier really needs this renovation, and the commercial fleet will greatly benefit from new and more efficient systems,” he said.
Local fishermen have struggled with the pier’s uneven decking, cracked concrete floors, and aging systems, Mayo added.
“The reconstruction will allow the fishermen to more easily and expeditiously conduct their business,” he said.
Once completed, the project will also allow more separation between those who use the pier for commercial reasons and those who do for recreational ones, according to Mayo.
A pier has been a familiar sight in Cape Porpoise for decades, Mayo said. The structure was last rehabilitated in the late ’80s or early ’90s.
“The Cape Porpoise Pier serves a vibrant and diverse commercial fishing fleet, and has supported traditional industry in town for generations,” Mayo said. “Kennebunkport has a special commitment to the fishing industry and this reconstruction is a brilliant example of the town’s commitment to preserve a working waterfront and bright many more generations of fishermen to call Cape Porpoise home.”
Big plans:Pilot House owners pitch new restaurant, moving Spirit of Massachusetts ship to land
In a news release, Maine Governor Janet Mills called the grant a “critical investment” in the state’s working waterfront.
“Kennebunkport’s fishing fleet and shorefront businesses are a vital part (of the) southern Maine community’s economy and identity,” Mills said. “They are also vulnerable to the impact of severe weather, and will greatly benefit from this investment in coastal infrastructure.”
In a joint statement, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said the renovation of the Cape Porpoise Pier will help the state’s fishing industry in the long term. They credited Maine fisheries with powering the state’s economy, supporting the workforce, and sharing a “taste of Maine” throughout the world.
“Rebuilding the Cape Porpoise commercial pier in Kennebunkport will strengthen these historic and important fisheries while securing the long-term resilience of the local industry and the communities that rely on it,” they said.