Final Notice and Public Explanation of a Proposed Activity in a Floodplain – Vinalhaven, Maine

The following notice is part of Phase 2 of the Downtown Project funded by Northern Border Regional Commission State Economic & Infrastructure Development Investment Program (SEID)
Final Notice and Public Explanation of a Proposed Activity in a Floodplain – Vinalhaven, Maine
To:  All interested Agencies, Groups, and Individuals
 
The Town of Vinalhaven, Maine (the applicant) intends to complete the following Proposed Action with funding from Northern Border Regional Commission’s (NBRC’s) State Economic & Infrastructure Development Investment (SEID) Program. NBRC has prepared an 8-Step Decision-Making Process review in compliance with Executive Order (EO) 11988 (Floodplain Management) as amended by Executive Order 13690 (Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input).
 
The purpose of the Proposed Action is to renovate the Vinalhaven Downtown area, which serves commercial fishing and supports the Town’s tourist activities, which are the two principal employment sectors on the island. The project will remedy deficiencies in parking lots and boat launches and mitigate flooding impacts to structures and public infrastructure. This is aligned with the SEID Program’s Transportation Infrastructure, Basic Public Infrastructure, and Resource Conservation, Tourism, Recreation priorities.
 
Components of the Proposed Action includes:
  1. Upgrading the Downtown Parking Lot and Improving the Boat Launch, which involves reconstructing the downtown parking lot located on Main Street, Vinalhaven across from Carvers Harbor Market (44.047308, 68.833475), improving the commercial and recreational boat launch, and repairing/replacing the bulkheads, which are located at the downtown parking lot. The purpose of the improvements to this site are to reduce flooding and support economic activity.
  2. Preparing Net Factory Site for Eventual Repurposing and Construction of New Water District Offices, which involves relocating the current Vinalhaven Water District Offices to the existing wastewater treatment facility property located at 62 Sands Road (44.044985, -68.840564). The purpose of this action is to accommodate short-term offices for construction employees to support the project and to enable the site to eventually be repurposed for the benefit of the community. The future use of the Net Factory site is still in development.
  3. Improving Working Waterfront, which includes improving the “Fish Plant” commercial boat launch (44.045297, -68.837313) and repairing/replacing the bulkheads along the “Fish Plant” parking lot (44.045019, -68.837577), which is located adjacent to the Fish Plant commercial boat launch on West Main Street. The purpose of the renovation is to build resilience to the impacts of sea level rise and increased precipitation and to support the commercial fishing economy.
The applicant considered the following alternatives in selecting the Proposed Action:
1) Upgrading the Downtown Parking Lot and Improving Boat Launch
No Action Alternative: The no action alternative would result in the continued deterioration of the existing parking lot and boat launch, making these key Town resources for both commercial and recreation use unusable. This would not address the Town’s desire to maintain key resources that support their commercial fishing and tourism industries.
Alternative Site: No other alternative locations for this project are practicable. There is very little undeveloped useable land in the direct vicinity of the harbor area, which is key to be able to continue to support the commercial fishing and tourism industries. A boat launch must be located in the water and therefore cannot be moved out of the floodplain.
Nature-based Approach:  EO 13690 requires federal agencies to consider a nature-based approach when developing project alternatives. Nature-based approaches were considered as alternatives to the Proposed Action. However, no viable nature-based alternatives were identified that would still meet the needs of the Proposed Action.
 
2) Preparing Net Factory Site for Eventual Repurposing and Construction of New Water District Offices
No Action Alternative:  The no action alternative would result in the Water District Office remaining at its existing location and no new development on the wastewater treatment facility site. If the Water District Office remains at its existing location, the Net Factory Site would no longer be available to support the Town’s long-term goals for revitalizing the Downtown by adding additional parking, workforce housing, or growing commercial development.
Alternative Site: No other alternative locations for this project were practicable. There is very little undeveloped useable land in the direct vicinity of the harbor area. The existing wastewater treatment facility has some land available for development and is already a Town owned parcel, making it an ideal location for the office to be moved to. 
Nature-based Approach:  EO 13690 requires federal agencies to consider a nature-based approach when developing project alternatives. Nature-based approaches were considered as alternatives to the Proposed Action. However, no viable nature-based alternatives were identified that would still meet the needs of the Proposed Action.
 
3) Improving the Working Waterfront
No Action Alternative: The no action alternative would result in the continued deterioration of the existing parking lot and boat launch, making these key Town resources unusable. This would not address the Town’s desire to maintain key resources that support their commercial fishing and tourism industries.
Alternative Site: No other alternative locations for this project were practicable. There is very little undeveloped useable land in the direct vicinity of the harbor area, which is key to be able to use this parking lot as for the commercial fishing and tourism industries. A boat launch must be located in the water and therefore cannot be moved out of the floodplain.
Nature-based Approach:  EO 13690 requires federal agencies to consider a nature-based approach when developing project alternatives. Nature-based approaches were considered as alternatives to the Proposed Action. However, no viable nature-based alternatives were identified that would still meet the needs of the Proposed Action.
 
Through the 8-Step Decision-Making Process, NBRC identified the potential for the Proposed Action to impact property, lives, and natural values. The applicant has identified the following to minimize potential impacts:
 
1) Upgrading the Downtown Parking Lot and Improving Boat Launch
Property Impacts – The Proposed Action includes renovations to existing structures currently located within the floodplain. No major expansion of the site into the natural floodplain will be done as part of this project. The design will incorporate improvements to the stormwater management systems on site to better drain flood waters after a flooding events. The boat launch will be updated with durable materials from experienced manufacturers to minimize future deterioration. The design will ensure the existing parking lot and boat launch facilities will remain usable for industry users.
Impacts to Lives – The Proposed Action, with repairs being made to the parking lot and boat ramp, will help increase safety, ensure access to the natural resources, and minimize impacts of flooding events on these facilities. By repairing these items, they will be safer for users to utilize in the future.
Natural Values Impacts – The Proposed actions are located in an already developed area of the floodplain. Improvements to the site will help drain flood waters of the site after a flooding event with improved stormwater infrastructure.  
 
2) Preparing Net Factory Site for Eventual Repurposing and Construction of New Water District Offices
Property Impacts – The new building as part of the Proposed Action will be constructed with measures in place to protect the structure from flooding events. Electrical equipment will be located three (3) feet above the FFRMS floodplain elevation to ensure these items are not impacted during flooding events. The building will be constructed using water resistant materials to the extent practicable, including waterproof siding, a concrete foundation and potentially flood barriers. The existing wastewater treatment facility building on the site has flood insurance and flood insurance will be obtained for the new building, as practicable.
Impacts to Lives – By elevating critical infrastructure in the proposed building above the flood elevation, there should be minimal impacts to the users of the office space due to flooding.
Natural Values Impacts – The site layout will be designed such that drainage and infiltration are encouraged away from the new building. Additional impervious surface will be minimized to the extent practicable.
 
3) Improving the Working Waterfront
Property Impacts – The Proposed Action includes only renovations to existing structures located within the floodplain. No major expansion of the site will be done as part of this project. The design will ensure the existing parking lot and boat launch facilities will remain usable for industry users. The existing gravel parking lot will be refinished with pavement and new stormwater infrastructure measures on site to better drain flood waters in the parking lot area after a flooding event. The boat launch will be reconstructed with durable materials specifically designed for boat launches by experienced manufacturers to minimize future deterioration.
Impacts to Lives – The Proposed Action, with repairs being made to the parking lot and boat ramp, will help increase safety on site, and minimize impacts of flooding events on these facilities. By repairing these items, they will be safer for users to utilize in the future.
Natural Values Impacts – Proposed actions are in an already developed area of the floodplain. Improvements to the site will help drain flood water on the site after a flooding event with improved stormwater infrastructure design. 
 
It is NBRC’s determination that due to lack of practicable alternatives and the importance of the Proposes Action to address the needs of the Vinalhaven community, the importance of the Proposed Action in the floodplain outweighs the requirements of EO 11988 and EO 13690 to avoid direct and indirect support of floodplain development and reduce the risk of flood loss.
 
Files that document compliance with steps 1 through 6 of EO 11988 (as amended by EO 13690) are available for public inspection, upon request. Please send an email request to info@clarkgroupllc.com. The 8-Step Decision-Making Process materials will be provided in electronic format unless a hard copy is specifically requested.
 
This notice provides people who may be affected by activities in the floodplain and those who have an interest in the protection of the natural environment an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information. NBRC is accepting comments on this notice from November 10, 2022 through the end of the day of December 9, 2022. Comments should be submitted by email to info@clarkgroupllc.com.
 
Date of Publication: November 10, 2022