aerialAs part of the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will release $120,897 to the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) in support of waterfront improvements at Front Street Shipyard in Belfast. Front Street Shipyard is providing matching funds for the $241,795 project. The waterfront rehabilitation includes 18 new slips and 15 new moorings for transient boats, which will be used for visitors and tourists in the mid-coast region.

With the BIG grant, Front Street Shipyard will add 12 new slips on the dock face with shorepower, plus five 40-foot harbor floats, all of which will be devoted to transient recreational boaters. Bathrooms, showers, and wireless internet for visiting boaters will be installed in the new marina. Over the next year, the yard will also add 21 new transient moorings. The new infrastructure will offer dockage and moorings to yachts visiting Maine from around the world.

Since Front Street Shipyard’s inception in 2011, the marina and service yard have attracted dozens of visiting yachts as large as 122 feet. These recreational vessels have bolstered the local economy through spending and job creation. Outside of the BIG grant, Front Street Shipyard is making additional improvements to continue attracting yachts, including the acquisition of a new 485-ton boat lift this summer, which is almost three times the size of the yard’s current lift.

“With Front Street Shipyard’s ongoing growth in capabilities and space, we need these additional slips and moorings to accommodate new customers and cruisers coming to the area,” said JB Turner, president of Front Street Shipyard. “The BIG grant will help make mid-coast Maine the international yachting destination that it’s evolving into.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded more than $11.2 million in competitive grants to 15 states for projects to support recreational boating. Grantees like Maine DOT and Front Street Shipyard use BIG funds to construct, renovate, and maintain facilities with features for transient boats that are 26 feet or more in length and used for recreation.

“These grants, funded by fishing and boating enthusiasts, have helped communities across the nation build and enhance recreational boating facilities that provide recreational opportunities while supporting jobs and economic growth,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “This program is a win-win situation for recreational boaters, conservation initiatives and job creation.”

Front Street Shipyard recently received American Boat Builders and Repairers Association’s annual “Boatyard of the Year” award for 2013. The yard now has 72,555 square feet of space for yacht storage and 10,320 square feet of shop space on a six-acre property with 1,500 feet of waterfront. There is an additional seven acres of off-site storage space. Front Street Shipyard currently employs more than 100 people.