HARPSWELL — Town officials hope to put an end to years of debate about the fate of the Mitchell Field water tower with a public vote at Town Meeting in March.

At the recommendation of the Water Tower Task Force, one warrant article will ask voters if they authorize the Board of Selectmen to move forward with demolition of the tower. The other article will seek authorization of a multi-year lease with an outside party for up to 20 years.

The town gained ownership of the tower in 2000, along with the rest of Mitchell Field, eight years after the former U.S. Navy fuel depot closed in 1992.

Meanwhile, the town is seeking statements of interest from outside parties who may want the tower, in case voters choose to keep it. The Expression of Interest solicitation says the town is looking for someone to take over “long-term responsibility for the management, use, renovation and long-term maintenance of the water tower.”

Part of that maintenance would include repairing the foundation, which was found to be deficient by Woodard and Curran, the engineering firm that studied the structure and submitted a report to the town last March. The solicitation says the repairs must be made within six months of the Town Meeting.

The town also expects any interested entity to submit a plan for the renovation of the water tower and related facilities, as well as a timeline for completing the work and the estimated cost of each major repair. The costs, according to the document, are to be based on written estimates or proposals by contractors, engineers or tower consultants.

At the same time, the town has begun demolition of the nearby Mitchell Field pier, and unexpected costs are already adding up.

Town Administrator Kristi Eiane told the Board of Selectmen on Jan. 18 that an additional culvert must be built at the site, and a construction fence must be taken down for modifications and re-erected. Contingency funds will pay for that work.

The pier demolition is projected to be finished by September.

Elizabeth Clemente can be contacted at 781-3661, ext. 100, or at:

[email protected]

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