EASTPORT — Officials are hoping to develop an industrial park near the city’s planned $15 million port at Estes Head.
Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the Eastport Port Authority, said such an industrial park is possible on the 43 acres available.
“We are looking at an area that could accommodate a small-scale blueberry processing plant,” Daniels said. He said such a facility could be augmented with other light industrial facilities where businesses could take advantage of the close proximity to the port.
The first priority, Daniels said, is the construction of warehouse space. The downtown port, which has only one warehouse nearby, has suffered from a chronic shortage of storage space for materials awaiting shipment. A second warehouse was built last year at Estes Head, which is located about two miles from the downtown port.
“Once additional warehouses are built, and those needs are met, we can take a look at opening up further land for development,” he said.
Construction of the port at Estes Head is moving along at a good pace. A road has been built to the shore that will allow contractors to begin construction of the trestle that will connect the 604-foot two-berth cargo pier to the shore. The pier will be about 232 feet offshore.
Arthur Getchell, chief inspector for S.W. Cole of Bangor, whose firm is overseeing the project for the state, showed off architectural drawings Monday to demonstrate how the pier would function when it is completed. “The main thing is access to two ships at the same time,” he explained.
The original design called for a 634-foot two-berth pier that would accommodate a ship up to 900 feet long at an outside berth and a second vessel up to 550 feet long at an inside berth.
Because the low bid was higher than anticipated, it appeared there would not be enough money to build the two-berth facility. But earlier this month, the city gave port officials the go-ahead to borrow an additional $821,000 to construct the second facility.
Getchell said he anticipated the first concrete abutments would be poured within two weeks. Contractors expect to complete the project by July 1998, but much will depend on the weather.
“We all know how Maine winters can be,” Daniels said, “but we have set our sights on July 1998. If they are able to work through the winter and get some additional work done, we could get into the facility earlier, and that will really be a bonus.”
Getchell said that one of the advantages of the Estes Head site is the deep water. He said the water is 40 feet deep on the inside berth, and 70 feet on the outside. “So no dredging will be involved,” he said.
During a tour of the site, Daniels said the contractor had to blast ledge to build the road to the shore, but he said the rock material dislodged by the blasting had been used to cover the road. “They were able to reclaim a lot of that for the actual road construction. So we are already looking at the possible savings by being able to reuse some of that material,” he said.
The new pier will be built next to one of Eastport’s largest salmon aquaculture businesses, Connors Brothers Fish Processing plant.
Once the new port is completed, Daniels said, the port authority hopes to retain its single-berth pier downtown.
He said the old pier is in need of repairs. “We can look at that as a backup facility. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if eventually we had three ships in here, two at Estes Head and one downtown,” Daniels said.
Daniels said there also is the possibility that cruise ships might visit the downtown pier.