WELLS — In order to accommodate the commercial and recreational boats that use the boat launch ramp in Wells, the town will be applying for a grant from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

The purpose of the grant is to “address our launch ramp, which is one of the most easily accessible launch ramps in the state,” said Harbormaster Chris Mayo, in a phone interview on Monday, and “develop a more user-friendly access to the ocean.”

Currently, the launch consists of a single, 20-foot ramp. At an estimated cost of $132,000, the project would double the space by constructing two 20-foot ramps. It would also pay for the design and permitting costs.

If successful, the state grant would supply half of the money, and the town would pay the other half.

Some of the town’s match could come from town materials that could be used for paving and sitework, said Town Manager Jonathan Carter. Earlier this month, the board of selectmen voted unanimously to allow the town to apply for the grant.

The project is pre-approved, said Mayo, but the town must still send in an application, which is due this month. Because of the pre-approval, he said, the town has a good chance of winning the grant to expand the launch, which he said is the only free ramp between Kittery and Portland.

The expansion is necessary, said Mayo, because on average, “100 boats launch and recover here in summer, and there is increased usage of late.”

The launch is open to all uses, commercial and recreational, he said.

“Quite a few commercial vessels use the launch,” said Mayo. “Also, the Webhannet River boat yard uses the ramp frequently ”¦ in the summer, it is mostly used by small, recreational boats.”

He’s not sure when he’ll receive notification of whether the grant is successful, he said, although he expects to hear before the end of the summer.

If it is successful, the town also needs permit approvals from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The permit process could be lengthy, said Mayo.

“If everything falls into place, we’ll probably look at a spring 2015” construction, he said. “The goal is to have it up and operational by the summer of 2015.”

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 324 or [email protected]

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