News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 6, 2019
Colwell Ramp construction on tap

by Rich Hewitt

The town plans to finish work on the Colwell Ramp stone pier this summer and selectmen have set that process in motion.

The selectmen approved the expenditure of up to $30,000 to move stones stored at the ballfield to the pier to be used to finish the expansion of the pier. Voters approved the funds at town meeting in March, and the town already has a permit to construct the 30-by-100-foot stone pier. About one-third of the work had previously been completed.

According to Town Manager Kathleen Billings, the plan is to place the cut granite blocks out into the water following the existing footprint. They believe there’s enough granite at the ballfield—rock left over from the excavation for the new water lines on Highland Avenue and School Street—along with some stone stored at the transfer station, to complete the job including a small parking area near the pier. There is some concern about the cost of an excavator that will be needed both to load the stones at the ball field and to set them in place at the pier.

“We’ll just go as far as we can with the money we’ve got,” said Selectman John Robbins.

Selectman John Steed noted that there may be additional funds available from the joint Colwell Ramp fund. The ramp is owned jointly by the towns of Stonington and Isle Au Haut. Under the interlocal agreement, the towns are supposed to contribute equally to that fund. In recent years, however, Isle Au Haut has not matched Stonington’s contributions. Steed said he had not heard how much Isle Au Haut had raised at its town meeting this year, but he noted that the funds in the account could be used if the joint Colwell Ramp Committee could meet and vote to release those funds.

“There is money in the Colwell Ramp account,” Selectman Evelyn Duncan said, “but we need a meeting to vote to expend that.”

Steed, who is the selectmen’s representative on that committee, said it has been difficult to set up a meeting, but indicated that he may have found a date when most of the members could be present.

The town also plans to apply for additional grant funding to set pilings at the end of the pier to provide a place to tie up across the end. Those grant funds could also be used to finish off the surface of the pier and possibly pave that area as well.

Although the selectmen are anxious to get the job done, Billings said that with all the rain recently, the ballfield is too wet to bring equipment on it yet.

Selectmen also agreed to spend up to $6,265 to repair the chimney in the old gym building. The town will require that the chimney work be done before work on repairing and reshingling the roof of the building begins.

They also authorized the harbor committee to spend up to $10,000 to purchase and install a new hoist on the commercial fish pier. Duncan noted that the town has spent on average about $15,000 a year on repairs on hoists, and the selectmen raised concerns about the damage that is being done to that equipment. The planned hoist will include a limiter, according to Billings, that will shut off the hoist if the load is too heavy.