March 13, 2018

Harpswell boatbuilding program helps save working waterfront

The auction of a wooden rowboat built by the Harspwell Boat Builders, a program for local children, will benefit the Holbrook Community Foundation's ongoing efforts to safeguard Holbrook Wharf in Cundy's Harbor as a working waterfront.

The Forecaster reported the foundation was formed to save the working waterfront property from private residential development. The foundation bought the property, which includes a commercial fishing wharf, seasonal store, seasonal snack bar and historic house.

"It was in danger of somebody buying it up and building condos and stuff like that," Ann Flannery, who launched the boat builders' program and is a director of the foundation, told The Forecaster.

Flannery said her role with the foundation inspired her to launch the boatbuilding group, which includes roughly 10 children. She expects to have the boat done by the end of the school year and plans to continue the program in the future.

According to the foundation's website, Cundy's Harbor residents were galvanized to save the wharf in 2005, when a "for sale" sign went up. The nonprofit foundation was organized to purchase and manage the property for commercial fishing. A mixed-use property, the working waterfront includes the large commercial fishing wharf, a seasonal store, seasonal snack bar on the wharf, and a historic house with two rental apartments and a photography gallery.

Leases and rental income cover the day-to-day costs to operate the property. "The business plan is not dependent on one particular product, so Holbrook's will be able to survive changes in the commercial fishing industry," the website says.

The wharf and snack bar underwent major reconstruction in 2009, with innovative use of recycled products and energy efficient design. Private funds play a critical role in the property's ongoing restoration and preservation for commercial fishing.

According to the website, commercial fishing enterprises currently using the wharf and/or bays include:

  • Fat Tuna LLC, which lands tuna on the wharf, where they are cleaned, measured and loaded for delivery to U.S. and Far East markets. As many as 350 tuna have been landed in one season.
  • Source, Inc. of Brunswick is sustainably harvesting 1,500 pound bags of seaweed, which it uses for production of micronutrient supplements for animals and people.
  • The Pesce family is making lobster traps and lobstering.

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