Topsham is applying for state funding for improvements to Head of Tide Park, including a gangway and ramp along the Cathance River for hand-carried boats. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

TOPSHAM — The town is seeking $55,000 in grants from the state to improve parking and build a hand-carry boat launch at Head of Tide Park.

The Board of Selectmen on July 18 unanimously authorized Town Manager Rich Roedner to apply for the funding, which is available through the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands’ Boating Facilities Fund.

The total project would cost $73,000; $18,000, or 25%, would be provided by the town – $10,000 from the current budget and $8,000 from in-kind work by Public Works, according to Town Planner Rod Melanson.

The 12-acre Cathance River park, at 235 Cathance Road, is owned by the town and stewarded by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. It offers a 15-foot waterfall at the river’s highest tidal reach, hand-carry boat access on either side of the falls, a trailhead that connects to more than 7 miles of trails, and picnic and parking areas.

Informational signs explain the history of the site, where a sawmill operated 300 years ago, followed by a feldspar mill.

The $73,000 would cover engineering, permitting, site improvements and the upstream boat launch, Melanson said. Improvements to the parking lot, across the street from the park, include moving the entrance so that it faces the park entrance.

“The idea really is to make this a safer egress,” with better site distances and improved alignment with the crosswalk, Melanson said during a tour of the site July 15. Parking would be shifted back from the water and toward the adjoining forest, providing more opportunity for riverside green space.

The surface of the approximately 13-vehicle lot would remain gravel.

A trail from the lot to the boat launch area would be improved, and a gangway and float accessible by those with disabilities would be built. Hand-carried vessels such as canoes and kayaks would enter the river from that point.

Travis Pryor, formerly of Wright-Pierce Engineering, is the project’s lead engineer and architect.

The town should learn by late August whether it will receive the funds. A lack of the funds would delay the project, Melanson said; otherwise it should be complete by the fall of 2020.


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