The Quoddy Tides

Eastport, Maine

25 Aug 2006

Work begins on boat launch at Split Rock

by Edward French

Work on a new boat launch at Split Rock, Pleasant Point, has caused some to question why the facility is being built at a site that is being leased by the Passamaquoddy Tribe for a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.

Carver Construction of Beals began work on August 10 on a $160,000 contract that will include a boat launch and parking area, according to tribal project manager Dana Altvater. Funding for the project totals over $205,000, with $150,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, $50,000 from the Maine Department of Transportation's Small Harbor Improvement Program (SHIP) and over $5,000 from the tribal government, which is also providing in-kind administration of the project.

The project has been considered for over 15 years and originally called for floats off the existing pier. However, the pier is in need of work, and there was not sufficient funding for pilings and floats next to the boat launch.

Altvater says the project was in the works before the LNG proposals came forward and now is proceeding as if the LNG plans were not happening. The tribe was awarded the $150,000 from USDA Rural Development on October 28, 2004, and the state grant was awarded about a year and a half ago. The land lease for the Split Rock site was signed by the tribal council in May 2005.

Once the funding agencies learned about the LNG proposals, the tribal government signed agreements to pay back the monies to the agencies if the LNG terminal is built and the boat launch cannot be used, Altvater says.

Rob Elder, director of the DOT's Office of Freight Transportation, also says the tribal government signed such agreements. "We wanted to cooperate with their wishes," he says. He adds that the state also will be satisfied if the boat launch can coexist with the LNG terminal.

Milton Ross, area loan supervisor for USDA Rural Development, says the Split Rock site "is the best location for that access." He understands, if the LNG project proceeds, that the tribal government will be reimbursed by the LNG developer, Quoddy Bay LNG, for the cost of the boat launch, and it would then be rebuilt in another location. Altvater says he is not aware of that agreement.

Questioned if it is unusual for USDA Rural Development to approve funding for a project if the land is leased for another project, Ross stated, "My dealings are strictly with the tribe. If that's where the tribe wants to put it, that's where they're putting it."


© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.