Harbor horizons: New waterfront investment aims to strengthen Camden’s pulling power

Every summer day, the Lyman-Morse operation in Camden is a hive of activity.

Boaters from around the world and surrounding communities come and go from the docks and moorings of the marina, perhaps making trips into town to enjoy local restaurants or purchase provisions for their trips. Employees are engaged in providing repairs and overhauls, sail and metal fabrication, engine repairs and launching services.

An on-site restaurant and distillery attract boaters and local residents. Visitors are invited to see the work activities at the water’s edge of the construction site. The company’s annual sailboat race joins other races, boating programs and historic passenger ships to keep Camden Harbor vibrant.

This year, the shipyard has been even busier with a $ 15 million improvement project, funded by Bangor Savings Bank, which includes the reconstruction of an 11,000 square foot facility, the dismantling of a mishmash. mishmash of old buildings totaling 31,400 square feet and the new construction of a 33,000 square foot Marine Services Complex.

“I want it to be open and inviting to the community and visitors,” says Lyman-Morse President Drew Lyman. “That’s the whole point.”

The project benefits the entire community in many ways, says Jeremy Martin, Camden’s director of planning and development.

“Lyman-Morse is one of the biggest employers in town,” says Martin. “There are a lot of spin-off companies that benefit from Lyman-Morse’s presence here. I see this as an extension of our existing waterfront and downtown.

Render / Courtesy of Lyman-Morse

Lyman Morse new construction of a 33,000 square foot marine services complex at its Camden facility.

Shipyard fire

The yard, on the east side of Camden Harbor, was once known as the Wayfarer Marine. Large cargo schooners, WWII ships and yachts have been built there since the 19th century.

Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding, a Thomaston yacht builder that also offers technology and manufacturing services, purchased the yard in 2015 to expand its presence on the Mid Coast and give it a foothold in the bustling harbor. It improved the infrastructure, added services and increased the number of employees to more than 50 today.

But a fire overnight in June 2020 caused extensive smoke damage to the main site facility along the construction site waterfront area.

Lyman sees the situation as an opportunity to build “a 21st century example” of functional and modern waterfront infrastructure designed to serve both customers and the local community.

Accelerated plans

The Camden campus is dominated by a 3.8-acre Inner Harbor Boatyard parcel that borders the shore and is easily visible to passers-by. A short walk up a hill leads to additional land and buildings, where every square inch is used to store dozens of boats in the winter. Along the shore, the marine infrastructure includes docks and moorings used by several hundred visiting boaters each year.

The fire occurred at the main facility at Inner Harbor Shipyard, adjacent to an 11,000 square foot structure known as Building 1.

There were burns where the fire started, in a restaurant at one end of the building. The smoke damage was more severe.

“The smoke spread throughout the complex,” says Joshua Moore, the company’s director of special projects.

The company has therefore accelerated plans for a major upgrade of the Inner Harbor shipyard. The project was supposed to happen at some point anyway, Lyman says, in order to replace a mishmash of period buildings with modern facilities designed with energy efficiency, labor efficiency in mind. artwork and amenities for customers and the community.

The project started right after the fire, when Building 1, which had been used for the storage and maintenance of boats, was emptied and rebuilt with new coatings, insulation, roofing, paint, heating systems and d ‘lighting, windows, etc.

All the buildings around it were demolished. A new service building has been designed to connect to Building 1 and will house specially designed rigging, mechanics, electronics and carpentry workshops. The facilities will include a heated floor and an extensive rack system to store masts, booms and other rigging components. Spaces connect from one to another, providing an efficient workflow.

Along with these storage and service buildings is a new structure that runs along the shore. This summer, Lyman-Morse’s construction manager, Lajoie Bros. of Augusta, carried out the site work and installed the foundations and public service pipes for the building. The walls, roof and other structural elements are being erected, and completion is expected by summer 2022.

The southern end of the building will house a restaurant, a distillery and a courtyard. Progressing northward, the customer-oriented spaces will include a customer lounge with amenities such as a seating area, showers and desks for yacht crews.

Then there are the Lyman-Morse offices, comprising a reception area, warehouse, ship’s store, and service manager offices.

Centralized access to service managers is intentional.

“When we bought this yard in 2015, we knew that the old buildings were hurting the productivity of the workforce,” Lyman explains. “We are becoming more efficient, both in terms of heating / insulation and creating a better working environment for our team. “

Office rental spaces will also be available.

Render / Courtesy of Lyman-Morse

Lyman Morse The new marine services complex has been designed with energy and labor efficiency in mind, as well as amenities for customers and the community.

The sea level rises

The project includes new protections for shoreline infrastructure as storms become more frequent and severe. This includes raising all buildings above the floodplain and installing a new concrete retaining wall to replace a failing timber wall.

“It’s something we want to pay attention to,” Lyman says.

Maritime infrastructure

The company is also looking to eventually expand its network of docks and jetties to accommodate a growing clientele. This includes the possibility of installing a “wave attenuation” wharf along the shore of the outer harbor. Wave attenuators are floating breakwaters that help cushion the impact of waves as they approach shore.

To this end, the company, in partnership with the Maine Department of Transportation, received a federal grant of $ 1.5 million in 2019 under the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Nautical Infrastructure Grants program.

It will likely be several years before this part of the plan is finalized, as the company works with a plethora of permits at the local, state and federal levels, Moore said.

City improvements

The Town of Camden also has improvement projects underway for properties it owns elsewhere along the winding harbor shore.

Following a state-funded Penobscot Bay waterfront resilience analysis completed in 2019, Camden is currently working on preliminary plans and examining possible funding sources to ensure that the public landing owned by the city ​​is resisting sea-level rise – a project that has a preliminary estimate of around $ 2.6 million, says Martin. The D-Day is a bustling summer attraction surrounded by restaurants, shops and tour boats just steps from downtown Camden.

The challenges include insufficient elevation of riparian structures in the face of tides and storm surges.

“It’s a big project,” says Martin.

Like Lyman, Martin sees the challenges as opportunities to improve the old infrastructure. This includes the construction of a raised harbor master’s building, relocation of utilities from the wharf to protect them from flooding and moisture infiltration, as well as new docks and pilings.

The analysis also recommends the reconstruction of the wharf, estimated at an additional $ 2.5 million.

The signs of sea level rise are obvious.

“You see more than ever the water flowing on the wharf,” says Martin. “With heavy rain episodes, we see downtown Harbor Park flooded with high tide water all the time. It’s drastic.

The city is also discussing the possibility of building a breakwater in the harbor to dampen storm surges.

“This will involve a lot of stakeholder involvement,” says Martin. “It’s a multi-million dollar project and the federal government would be involved. The Army Corps of Engineers would bear most of the cost, but it’s a significant amount for the community.

Additional projects, at some point, could include improvements to the city’s Steamboat Landing – a public boat launch located near the Lyman-Morse facility.

“At some point, we’ll be looking to improve this infrastructure,” says Martin. “This is hit very hard by the wave action.”

Economic activity

Martin credits Lyman-Morse for its economic benefits for the entire community.

“He’s a big employer,” he says. “When the boats arrive, these people are shopping in town. I think the community is happy with the way they operate there.

Stacey Keefer, executive director of the Maine Marine Trades Association in Rockland, notes that waterfront businesses compete to attract boaters who expect certain amenities and services and can even choose their destinations based on availability.

“Throughout Maine’s history, our waterfront businesses have had to adapt to economic, regulatory and consumer changes,” Keefer said. “As our heritage shipbuilding and fishing industries modernized, so have shipyards and increasingly rely on boaters to subsidize the expensive infrastructure and overhead costs associated with their precious waterfront facilities. the water. “

Photo / Courtesy of Maine Marine Trades Association

Maine Marine Trades Association Executive director Stacey Keefer says waterfront businesses compete with each other to attract boaters who have come to expect certain amenities and services.

She adds: “Companies like Lyman-Morse are adapting to the latest consumer demand from boaters for more onshore amenities such as bars, restaurants, toilets, etc.

Yet, she notes, waterfront development can generate fierce local debate.

“People don’t like change,” she says. “You have to find that balance between a business that adapts and tries to grow and offer more tax base and more interest to the region, while maintaining a sense of preservation and not forgetting your community and your story. “

Said Martin, “People come to Camden for Camden Harbor. So many people that I meet day after day have come to Camden years ago for a honeymoon or vacation or whatever, and they end up moving here. I think the port is the main driver behind this.

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