Harpswell selectmen approved a contract with the state which will see them cover half the costs of addint a new floating pier system at Mitchell Field. (Nathan Strout / The Times Record)

HARPSWELL — Following approval from voters at the annual town meeting Saturday, Harpswell selectmen approved a contract with the Maine Department of Transportation which will have the state pay for 50 percent of a ramp and floating pier system at Mitchell Field.

The project would add a seasonal floating pier system at the end of the causeway at Mitchell Field. The six 10-by-20-foot floats would be available for either commercial or recreational users. An 80 foot ADA compliant ramp would connect the floating pier system to the end of the causeway.

As part of the project, the town is also looking to make some improvements to the causeway, such as reactivating lighting, adding parking spots, and improving vehicular and pedestrian access. The application also includes the construction of a waterfront activity building and a dinghy rack.

The project is the first major waterfront development at Mitchell Field, a former U.S. Navy fuel depot, since the town demolished a former Navy pier over the summer. The pier had fallen into disrepair over the years, to the point where parts of it had collapsed into the ocean and the structure had become a safety issue. Demolition was completed by the end of the summer, clearing the way for the town to make improvements to the waterfront and create another point for public access to the water in Harpswell.

In 2017, the town first applied for funding through the Small Harbor Improvement Program with the Maine Department of Transportation to help pay for the improvements. The project is estimated to cost $320,000, and the contract the selectmen approved Thursday would commit the state to cover either 50 percent of the costs or $160,000, whichever is less. The state funding will not officially be appropriated until 2020.

At their annual town meeting Saturday, Harpswell voters authorized selectmen to expend $150,000 from the Mitchell Field Capital Reserve account for the floating pier project to cover the town’s half of the funding.

The town has also applied to the Small Harbor Improvement Program for funding to help construct a boat launch at Mitchell Field. That project is expected to be part of the 2021 appropriations for that program.

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