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Maine Coastal Program
Working Waterfront Initiative
Case Study: Incorporating Environmental Remediation into Waterfront Planning
Bath is known as the "City of Ships" because of its historical shipbuilding trade and its prominent remaining shipyard, Bath Iron Works--Maine's largest private employer. Stinson Seafood keeps the Bath waterfront an active participant in the fishing industry. Seeking to strengthen the vitality of its waterfront along the Kennebec River, Bath completed a Downtown Waterfront Action Plan. "So much of Bath's history, culture and economy are bound up with the waterfront," explains City's Planning Director, Jim Upham. "By taking a comprehensive approach to waterfront planning, we sought to support water-dependent businesses, improve recreational opportunities and link boat traffic to other modes of transportation."
To implement portions of the plan, the City secured competitive grants from the Maine Department of Transportation through its Small Harbor Improvement Program (SHIP) and Boating Infrastructure Grants (BIG) program. The State funds will supplement City resources being used to expand a waterfront park and float area for boaters and recreational fishing guides (who lead trips in search of striped bass). "Our hope is that the increased docking capacity will help to lure tour boats and ferry boats in the future," Upham says. Additional grants funded trails and landscaping that link the expanded waterfront dock to a nearby historic train station that is being restored (to serve as a stop on the planned Brunswick-to-Rockland train line).
Like many communities with a long history of industrial use along the waterfront, Bath has several "brownfields" sites with potentially toxic materials. To assess these sites and conduct the necessary clean up, Bath secured a grant from the New England Regional Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through a program designed to help communities prevent, clean up and reuse brownfield sites. "We've received $200,000 to assess the extent of contamination at 4-5 sites and to complete an inventory to make sure no possible sites are overlooked," says City Community Development Director Al Smith. "There's redevelopment interest in several areas and we're are working with the developers to realize the objectives of our Downtown Waterfront Action Plan." Possible uses of the brownfields sites include open space, public shore access, a hotel and parking complex, and a housing development. How the sites are redeveloped will depend in part on the needs and interests of the landowners involved, their neighbors and other interested community members and organizations, Smith says: "We're trying to encourage citizen involvement in this process."
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