HARPSWELL — Harpswell has updated it’s long-term plan for Mitchell Field, the former Navy fuel depot, to include a solar array and cell tower.

The new master plan, getting its first update in 13 years, also addresses how sea level rise might affect the depot’s redevelopment.

According to Don Miskill, chairman of the Mitchell Field Committee, the plan needed an update after many of the items on the previous plan were completed, including the dismantling of the old pier and water tower, and new projects began developing.

The updated plan outlines infrastructure details for the proposed cell tower and solar power array, which were brought before the select board last year. Both projects are collaborative efforts by the town’s Energy and Technology Committee and Mitchell Field Committee.

Miskill said the 195-foot cell tower, which will establish stronger cell phone service on Orr’s and Bailey islands, will be built near where the old water tower stood before it was demolished.

“If it were 200 feet or higher it would need to have lights on it continuously because of the FAA regulations,” he said.

Harpswell selectmen issued a request for proposals and received five offers. The Energy and Technology Committee is reviewing the offers and will make a recommendation on which offer to accept soon, according to Kristi Eiane, Harpswell’s town administrator.

The updated plan also outlines a solar array could be installed in the future. The Energy and Technology Committee outlined a plot of land big enough to generate power for municipal buildings.

Miskill said Mitchell Field Committee ensured the 10- to 12-foot solar panels will not obstruct water and mountain views from the road in the designated location because of the way the field slopes downward.

Mitchell Field, a 112-acre parcel on the west side of Harpswell Neck Road served as a former fuel depot for the Brunswick Naval Air Station. The depot closed in 1992. Harpswell acquired the land in 2001 and has been working to turn it into recreational space.

The updated master plan also discusses sea level rise, which the original plan never mentions. The update states Harpswell received a shoreline assessment that revealed it’s susceptible to coastal erosion as the sea level rises. The town is conducting a sea level change analysis. The results will help the town further consider the impact sea level rise will have on potential development areas.

Seas are now rising at one-seventh of an inch per year, 2.5 times faster than the rate from 1900 to 1990, according to a 2019 report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report predicted sea level will rise three feet by the end of the century if steps aren’t taken to reduce emissions and slow global warming.

In the meantime, the town is moving forward with plans to put in a replacement pier, which was approved by the Maine Department of Transportation and slated for completion this year. The Maine DOT also approved an adjacent boat launch that would allow recreational boaters to access the water, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. Portions of the waterfront would also be kept open for recreational swimming.

“We have a more focused plan for waterfront development because the impediment for us was the pier,” said Miskill. “The pier removal really opened it up.”

The old pier had sat largely unused since the Navy abandoned the 119-acre site about three decades ago and the town acquired it in 2001. In that time, the pier had fallen into disrepair, and portions had collapsed into the ocean. The town decided to demolish and remove the dilapidated pier. The $3 million project was completed in the summer of 2018.

The town will vote whether to accept the updated master plan in next month’s town meeting, but Miskill said approving the plan itself does not commit the town to fund the projects included in the plan.

All future plans for Mitchell Field that require funding will weighed separately.

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