RICHMOND — For casual visitors to Richmond’s waterfront, recent investments have been a good thing.

“It looks 100% better,” said lifelong resident Sylvia Averell.

Work wrapped up at the end of April on a project to replace the bulkhead that supports the boat launch for the Swan Island ferry, operated by the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and now the season at the recreational area is underway.

“It took longer than anticipated,” said John Pratte, a wildlife biologist who manages the recreational area that encompasses the island in the Kennebec River at the head of Merrymeeting Bay. “We had some challenges with the ice and water conditions. We had early ice melt and flood, but the (Wyman and Simpson) workers did a good job and were good to work with.”

Residents like Averell could see the construction work in progress, but they couldn’t see an equally important project that also was completed this spring.

“We rolled out an online reservation system,” Pratte said. Available both on Swan Island Wildlife Management Area’s Facebook page and on its website, the system allows visitors to book a reservation for day use or for camping, sign up for events and reserve space on the ferry that serves the island.

“People have been asking if they can use their credit cards, because they might not have cash for firewood,” he said. “They can do it from their smart phones if they want.”

These projects, like the acquisition of the new ferry, are intended to attract more people to use the island recreation area.

“We have been incrementally growing our reservation rates over the last four years and we hope to see the trend continue,” Pratte said.

With the new season comes an updated calendar of events, including lobster bakes once a month from June to September, the Swan Island Family Field Day on June 24, a road race in July as a part of Richmond Days, and a variety of wildlife and historical tours.

From now until June, Pratte said, school groups have scheduled outings on Mondays and Wednesdays, and “we’re almost booked for Memorial Day weekend.”

The island, 4 miles long and up to three-quarters of a mile wide in the Kennebec River between Richmond and Dresden, offers camping, hiking and wildlife viewing. It is also the former home of nearly 100 people who lived in the town of Perkins, which has been abandoned since the 1940s. Some buildings remain at the north end of the island.

The construction project, which cost about $300,000, included replacing the bulkhead that supports the Richmond boat landing and paving the parking lot. The level of the boat landing was raised by 8 to 10 inches and the space was contoured to take care of some erosion and reduce sedimentation from stormwater runoff.

The work was scheduled for the winter months so that the native populations of sturgeon would not be disturbed.

During the course of the project, Pratte said Wyman and Simpson workers found that the fill in the bulkhead area contained bricks and several dump-truck loads of sawdust and a couple of bicycles.

“The way the crib work was constructed suggested there were buildings there at one time,” he said. “The Richmond waterfront seems to change every decade.”

For Averell, the work was worth it.

“It’s a beautiful spot and we’re lucky to have it,” she said.