Holbrook’s Wharf Protected (ME)

Harpswell, 12/27/06: The Holbrook Community Foundation (HCF) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today that the Holbrook’s Wharf property in Cundy’s Harbor has been purchased from Holbrook Landing, LLC and is now owned by the Holbrook Community Foundation. HCF was formed in March, 2006 as a nonprofit organization to own and manage the property for the benefit of local residents.

Holbrook’s Wharf is a working wharf, a restaurant, a general store and house that have been at the heart of the Cundy’s Harbor community for over 150 years. In the spring of 2005, with the property on the market, TPL secured an agreement with the landowners to purchase the wharf and buildings by December 2006, giving the community the time to raise the money to purchase the property. A private buyer could have purchased the site for residential and recreational use, thus ending commercial fishing at Holbrook’s. The completed purchase keeps Holbrook’s Wharf as a community asset and preserves access to the coast for local fishermen.

Funding for the $1.5 million project is coming from a combination of public and private sources. In October 2005, project organizers set out to raise $500,000 in private donations, and just over a year later, the campaign to Keep Holbrook’s Working surpassed its goal by raising $700,000. Donations came from more than 550 donors from Harpswell, across Maine, and around the country. In November 2006, the Holbrook Community Foundation submitted an application to Maine’s Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program (WWAPP) for $600,000, and that application is currently under review with an award announcement expected in January 2007.

With the deadline to purchase the property at hand and state support not available until after the January announcement, the Genesis Community Loan Fund (www.genesisfund.org), based in Damariscotta, Maine, has provided HCF with the bridge financing necessary to purchase the property. HCF expects to repay the short-term loan with proceeds from ongoing fundraising efforts and government funding sources, including the WWAPP, as well as income from leases for use of the property. Holbrook’s has six different uses: fish landing, a seasonal lobster snack bar, a general store, two rental apartments, five moorings, and parking. These multiple business activities enable Holbrook’s to remain economically viable. Meanwhile, HCF will proceed with repairs and renovations to the property, and continues to seek funding to help with that effort and to pay off the loan.

Complementing local efforts, U.S. Senator Susan Collins was a lead sponsor of legislation at the federal level introduced in the last Congress to establish a grant program to help ensure waterfront access for commercial fishermen, and in June announced that a Senate Committee approved a $200,000 allocation of economic development funds for the Holbrook’s Wharf Project in the Fiscal Year 2007 appropriation for Transportation, Treasury, the Judiciary and Housing and Urban Development. Final approval of these funds is still pending in Congress.

“Holbrook’s exemplifies the troubling changes occurring today in Maine’s coastal communities,” said Senator Collins. “Maine’s proud fishing tradition is at risk if our fishermen lose access to the water. We must be proactive and combine the vision and tenacious drive of local communities with the financial resources necessary to protect these vital coastal assets.”

Bill Mangum, president of HCF, said, “We’ve achieved our vision of protecting this important property to preserve access to the water and fishing infrastructure for our fishermen, and we’ve protected a property that in very large part defines our sense of community. The opportunity was only made possible by drawing on the strengths of many people and organizations, from the broad financial support from people here in Harpswell and from across the country who shared our vision; to the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust who helped guide us every step of the way; The Trust for Public Land, who brought their real estate and fundraising expertise; and the Genesis Community Loan Fund, which has stepped in at a critical time to provide critical bridge funding. It took many, many people to make this happen, and we are grateful to them all.”

Wolfe Tone, Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land, said, “The people behind this effort should be very proud. They worked together toward a common vision, brilliantly assembling the stepping stones that led them to a successful outcome, and engaged people from Cundy’s Harbor and around the country to understand why the property should be protected. The Holbrook Community Foundation and The Trust for Public Land are grateful to the over 550 people who contributed generously to this campaign, and we too are proud to have played a role in keeping Holbrook’s working.”

The Holbrook Community Foundation is a local non-profit 501(c)3 organization created for the purpose of owning and operating the Holbrook Wharf property for the benefit of the Harpswell Community and Maine’s fishing Industry.

The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 100,000 acres in Maine. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, visit www.tpl.org.