Kennebunkport selectmen have authorized a $90,000 repair to Cape Porpoise Pier following the recent collapse of a granite headwall adjacent to the dingy float ramp. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNKPORT – Selectmen authorized an emergency repair to the Cape Porpoise Pier following the recent collapse of a granite headwall adjacent to the dingy float ramp.

Rockland-based Prock Marine Company will use sheet piling and stone fill material to provide stability at the collapsed area, Public Works Director Michael Claus told selectmen in a recent memo. The $90,000 repair can be safely constructed without danger to the Prock Marine workers and fishermen using the dinghy float, he said.

Once on the site, Claus estimated the work would take four to five days.

The repair method will involve Prock Marine personnel working from a barge to drive the sheet piling and tying the piling to the pier decking to brace the existing granite from further movement, according to Claus’ memo.

The company will provide 35 cubic yards of stone and place it behind the new sheet pile, along with town-supplied granite blocks at each end of the sheet pile using a barge-mounted crane.

On Thursday, March 25, Claus explained to selectmen what had transpired – that the granite had collapsed down toward the harbor and lodged against some of the pier pilings.

The town worked with Baker Design Consultants and Prock Marine, looking at ways to stabilize the issue, with the sheet piling method emerging as the best solution.

“This will not be just a Band-Aid but (we) could leave it in place when real pier renovations begin,” said selectman Ed Hutchins.

“We’re going to look at that,” said Claus. “The pilings that are near the ramp for the dingy float can stay, but we’ll have to talk to the lobstermen (to determine if) they’re OK about leaving the sheet piling that is up against the pier where they berth,”

“When the boats come up to the pier, they won’t be up against the sheet piling, it will be in a similar location to where the granite face is now,” said Hutchins.

“If it will drive there, yes,” said Claus.

The board of selectmen voted to take $90,000 from the pier reserve account for the emergency repair – money it had earmarked as the local match should the town receive state and federal grant funding for a full, planned pier renovation. To make sure local funds are available for the match, should the grants be approved, they agreed to take $100,000 from capital reserve and transfer it to the pier reserve.

Hutchins asked about the status of the bait shed, which had been discussed in October when the slab that supports the floor had dropped 1 to 2 inches following a high tide that saw water flow inside.

Claus said the slab is holding, although if there was further damage, it would have to be fixed, and that the slab would have to be broken to do so.

“As long as it’s usable, we can keep going as we are,” Claus said, adding if it deteriorates more, they’ll open the floor and get the concrete underneath

Huchins wondered if asphalt could be used to patch as a temporary fix, noting the floor is uneven and the bait drums are heavy.

The proposed larger, overall pier renovation that would be accomplished with state and federal grants and the local match includes installation of new pilings in the area under the existing harbormaster’s office, construction of a new bait shed and harbormaster’s office, upgraded water and sewer utilities, burial of electrical wiring, a separation of fuel for commercial and recreational watercraft, a designated area for recreational boats, and additional features. Preliminary plans discussed in May 2020 show a new gangway leading to upgraded dinghy floats; a walkway with railing from the road to the pier; and a widened pier with a segregated walkway that leads to a new gangway, which in turn leads to the transient watercraft floats.

The last major renovation of the pier is thought to have been in the 1990s.

The pier is owned by the town, which estimates the commercial fishery accounts for $9 million to $11 million in economic benefit to the area.

About 60 commercial boats use the pier, along with 25 to 30 recreational watercraft, depending on the season, along with some recreational boat owners who have private moorings, but use the pier for fuel and other services.

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