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Updated: April 1, 2024

Yarmouth’s Sea Meadow Marine awarded $790K for working waterfront upgrades

Courtesy / Taylor Appolonio Sea Meadow Marine Foundation's goal is to preserve Yarmouth's working waterfront, and this year that will be supported by needed infrastructure upgrades.

Sea Meadow Marine, a nonprofit business incubator and marine business hub on the Cousins River in Yarmouth, has been awarded $790,000 in federal funds to help make major upgrades so that tenants can expand their businesses.

The money will go toward rebuilding a bulkhead and launch ramp and installing water and sewer systems, and comes from a community project funding program created by the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.

In the current fiscal year, each House member was permitted to submit 15 projects for consideration. Sea Meadow Marine was nominated by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine 1st District.

“In the face of climate change and heavy development pressure, it is more important than ever that we work to protect our disappearing working waterfronts,” said Pingree. “The Sea Meadow Marine working waterfront in Yarmouth supports a variety of businesses that require marine access to Casco Bay, including aquaculture and electric boats, along with educational opportunities and important scientific research projects.”

Sea Meadow Marine Foundation purchased the 12-acre boatyard, at 123 Even Keel Road, in 2021. But significant improvements were needed for the infrastructure, including alternatives to relying on a portable toilet and water that was trucked in.

The purchase and redevelopment were led by Chad Strater, a New Gloucester resident and businessman who was leasing space at the yard when he learned it was for sale and saw an opportunity to save a piece of valuable working waterfront.

person in yellow vest on barge
Sea Meadow Marine, led by Chad Strater, was awarded $790,000 in federal funds to rebuild a bulkhead and launch ramp and install water and sewer systems.

Today, the facility hosts early-stage fisheries and sustainable aquaculture businesses alongside marina services, heritage boat builders and recreational marine organizations.

The purchase initially saved over 30 jobs. 

“Those numbers have grown and this funding will greatly assist us in making critical infrastructure upgrades to ensure equitable access to our working waterfront survives and thrives,” said Strater.

“Additionally, it will allow us to further develop and expand our educational programs for the next generation. The tradition of Mainers coalescing, adapting, and thriving in the face of change is alive and well.”

Tenants so far include small oyster, kelp, quahog and scallop farm operations; Yarmouth Rowing Club; and boat shops Greene Marine and Downeast Custom Boats.

Expected to return this summer is a company looking into ways to catch and monetize Maine’s invasive green crabs, Strater told Mainebiz. There’s a kayaking group that launches from the site with groups of high school and middle school students, to learn about coastal and wetland ecology.

“We’ve been working on our outreach so that people understand what we do,” he said. "Do they grow oysters? Do they build boats? Our mission is to help preserve working waterfront. We’re finding new uses for existing waterfront and supporting additional uses.”

With a volunteer board, that’s a lot of work.

“We’re still very much bootstrap,” he said.

When the funds are received, the first use will be to rebuild a bulkhead that has suffered erosion, worsened by recent storms. The goal is to start on design and engineering for the water and sewer systems this year.

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