Sep 3, 2009

Sears Island - dredging of island approaches may rise again

Sometimes it's what they DON'T write that matters.....
In a recent Belfast Republican Journal article: Port funding shift makes waves as state looks to trim budget
Searsport area politicians decry the loss of funding they say was for improving Mack Point: the reporter writes:

"The funding would deepen the channel there to allow the terminal to accommodate larger and more modern ships. It follows the improvement of the pier system at Mack Point. "

Well, that sure omits something...

Using that federal stimulus funding for dredging the approaches to Sears Island was very much on the legislators' and MDOT's minds . You wouldn't know that from the RepJournal story though.

Proof? Listen to a 7 minute audio excerpt from the March 13, 2009 meeting of ME legislature's Transportation Committee. In the recording, Commissioner Cole talks about using $timulus money for dredging near Sears island. Not right up to intertidal, but the approaches to the island - which are fish nursery shoals, too. Below is an excerpt of a transcript from the above recording of the March 13, '09 Transportation Committee hearing. At this point, Commissioner Cole has been describing uses of federal stimulus money around the state:

Cole "Searsport. Currently the Army Corps of Engineers has been doing the engineering on dredging that marine channel. That marine channel serves Mack Point but it also serves Sears Island as well. It's estimated we would need 4 1/2 million to match 16 1/2 million in federal Army Corps investment to dredge that harbor."

"That would dredge it down from 35 to 40 feet at low tide. If you go into Mack Point and Sears Island, both would need that kind of depths to optimize their ability to bring the bigger ships in ."

Representative Hogan. "But if you got an investor for the port wouldn't that be their responsiblity. Or are we talkikng about something different?"

Cole. "This is like a highway its a designated marine channel Typically the expense of dredging that goes with the federal government and the state government."

Senator Damon: "It would also be servicing the existing facility at Mack Point, wouldn't it?"

Cole: "Right. This is the channel. I'm not saying if...... Right on shore, if they need dredging that might be the responsibility of the developer. Dockside. This is the general channel coming in and out."
End of Excerpt

that is the plan. How disappointing that the Republican Journal-ist left the Sears Island part out of her article! Moral of the story - besides don't trust what you read in the papers - is that if we can succeed in keeping that stimulus money up where it's NEEDED in Eastport, it won't be spent in Searsport where it's NOT NEEDED (though wanted). Sears Island will continue to be safe; no developer wants to have to spend millions on dredging - leave that to the taxpayers!

A determined effort by the people of Eastport and Baileyville will keep that money up there, and thus keep Penobscot Bay safe.

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