Holbrook’s Wharf Preservation Effort Extended (ME)

Harpswell, Maine, 4/19/06: Organizers of the effort to preserve Holbrook’s Wharf as a working waterfront have announced an extension on the deadline to purchase the wharf, which had been set for March 31st. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization with an office in Portland, has negotiated a new deadline of November 30, 2006, giving the project an additional eight months to complete the fundraising campaign and acquire the property. The purchase of the wharf will preserve deep water access for water-dependent activities, and guarantee that Holbrook’s remains a community center. With the fundraising campaign well underway, a business plan in place, and a broad demonstration of support from the community, the Campaign to Keep Holbrook’s Working is poised for success.

There are two upcoming events for people to learn more about the project and join the celebration of the campaign. On Wednesday, April 19, the public is invited to attend a community meeting on the Holbrook’s Wharf project. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Bailey Island Library Hall. Dessert and refreshments will be served.

On Saturday, May 6 the Annual Harpswell Fishermen’s Open House will celebrate Harpswell’s fishing heritage and feature the Campaign to Keep Holbrook’s Working as a centerpiece of the festivities. The event is scheduled to be held at the Harpswell Grange starting at 1:00 pm, and proceeds will be donated to the Holbrook’s campaign.

So far, the “Keep Holbrook’s Working Committee” has raised more than $300,000 out of the $1.5 million necessary to purchase the property and make improvements. The total is being raised using a combination of public and private sources, including individuals, foundations, and businesses. The group also plans to apply for a grant from the Land for Maine’s Future program, which Maine voters approved in November and now includes a dedicated fund for working waterfront preservation. Excitement about the campaign extends well beyond the village of Cundy’s Harbor with the list of supporters including Cole Haan, Bank of America, Downeast Energy, Horizon Foundation, Margaret Burnham Charitable Trust, and the Maine Community Foundation.

Sue Hawkes, a Cundy’s Harbor resident and part of the preservation effort, said “We are extremely pleased with the generosity of donors in our community and beyond who have pitched in to help make this project succeed. There is always a choice. We could do nothing and risk losing our access to the coast, a piece of our fishing infrastructure and a part of who we are as a community, or we can work together to protect this one defining piece of Cundy’s Harbor and, in turn, ourselves and Harpswell.”

“The Bank of America is pleased to support the Campaign to Keep Holbrook’s Working,” said Nancy Meagher, Market Development Manager for Bank of America in Maine. “Holbrook’s has stoodas an example of what is unique and special about Maine. Bank of America salutes the project’s volunteers and partners who are all working to preserve this piece of Maine’s heritage.”

In March, the Holbrook Community Foundation was formed to own and manage the property after the property is purchased from the current landowners later this year. A board of directors is in place, bylaws have been drafted, and an IRS application is underway for non-profit status to run the property for the public benefit. The group seeks to permanently protect the working wharf and its buildings, and preserve access for both fishermen, residents, and visitors at Holbrook’s.

Wolfe Tone, Project Manager at TPL, commended the members of the Committee to Keep Holbrook’s Working and all the contributors to the effort. “They have implemented a fundraising campaign, created a solid strategy to attract additional public and private fundraising dollars, and established an ownership structure that is sustainable for the long-term. This is a great project for Harpswell and for the coast-wide goal to preserve Maine’s working waterfronts.”

Holbrook’s Wharf has been an important part of the local economy and is a historic landmark that many from here and away have treasured. Holbrook’s Wharf is a working wharf, a restaurant, a general store and house that have been at the heart of the community for over 100 years. When the wharf went up for sale, TPL secured a temporary agreement to buy the wharf and buildings, which now expires on November 30, 2006.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. In Maine, TPL has protected over 87,000 acres across the state with projects ranging from city parks and pathways to coastal habitat and working farms and forests.