2014-09-05 / Front Page

Voters to decide need for dredge

The project was approved by selectmen last week, but will go to town vote in November
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT— Voters will decide in November whether the town should subsidize dredging around Government Wharf and build a sea wall.

The board of selectmen approved the project at the Aug. 28 meeting after discussing the matter with Bud Brown of Eco-Analysts, Inc., Inc. Brown will conduct a study this week to determine if the area to be dredged contains contaminants.

“The town has the opportunity to dredge around our property so that we can access more floats and have public tie-ups again (and) make use of things that are currently filled in,” said Town Manager Laurie Smith.

Because the town does not have a permit to dredge around Government Wharf, the project timeline would be lengthened up to three months to procure the license before dredging begins.

The approximate time needed for dredging will be determined after testing is completed.

Brown advised constructing a sea wall before dredging; without a preventative sea wall, dredging would be negated over time as sand would eventually refill the dredged area.

“My opinion is, if you don’t build that wall, there’s no point in dredging,” Brown said. “You’d just be wasting your time.”

The town has the opportunity to complete the dredging project with a number of other local businesses, which would allow for a significant reduction in project cost.

“We have the opportunity to go into joint project with private property owners along the Kennebunk River, so that it would be more cost-effective. We’re looking at a cost of anywhere from one-fifth to one-quarter the cost if we were to go at it alone. So, it certainly makes sense,” Smith said.

Local businesses, including Kennebunkport Marina and Arundel Yacht Club, have committed to the project.

The timing, however, is unfortunate, Smith said, as the need for dredging is coming in the midst of budget season. The town did not plan for the dredging expenditure, and “selectmen don’t have funds available to undertake this project at this time.”

Payment for the project, then, would come out of the town’s undesignated fund, if approved by voters.

At its Aug. 14 meeting, the board of selectmen approved testing the area by Eco-Analysts, Inc.

Once the testing is complete and the town has an idea of the environmental impact required, the board of selectmen will be able to estimate a more appropriate project cost.

Eco-Analysts, Inc. will take samples this week, and by the next selectmen’s meeting, should be able to verify that the town does not need to do biological testing, “that you’ll be on the low end (of cost),” said Brown.

While Brown believes there are no contaminants in the area, which will make dredging less expensive, the construction of a sea wall will be the more expensive aspect— likely between $135,000 and $165,000.

“Small money given what it protects over years,” said Selectman Stuart Barwise.

The town will decide between a 45-foot sea wall and a 75- foot sea wall. The sea wall will have no adverse effects on the flow of the river or water travel, Brown said.

“We need to do this, and Bud is the guy, his company is the company to do it,” Barwise said.

Because there are still many variables, the board decided to approve a “top level of funding,” for the project: $200,000 to dredge and build the sea wall.

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