CAMDEN — The Friends of Mt. Battie Tower reached a milestone in their campaign to fix the ailing tower atop the mountain that overlooks the town of Camden. The Save the Tower campaign gave the project a check March 16 for $67,205. The State of Maine will kick in another $10,000, for a total of $77,205.
The Tower campaign has been underway for more than 15 months, as local residents and the State of Maine teamed up to restore the aging tower.
Five contractors submitted proposals for the job. Tito Masonry and Construction, of Portland, was the lowest bidder.
Camden resident Randy Stearns, of Friends of Mt. Battie Tower, said work would begin around August 15, or earlier.
Steve Richardson, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands Senior Forest Engineer, said the open-ended contract was purposely written so in order to help get a lower bid on the work.
Tito can start any time between when that company signs the contract and August 15; however, once the work is started, the contract stipulates all work has to be completed within 60 days.
The state will make periodic payments to the contractor based on completion of work. The state paid for the engineering costs. Jamm Engineering, of Freeport, conducted the studies.
Stearns said the fundraising for the tower project continues, with the goal of raising $8,000 more to reach the goal of $100,000.
The effort included fundraisers, benefits and promotion all to turn back the years of neglect.
The Friends of Mt. Battie Tower first learned that there had been no maintenance on the tower for 20 years and that no funds existed to pay for repairs.
The Friends feared that cracked masonry would be the downfall of the tower. The circular staircase was in need of attention, as well.
The tower is visited by thousands of tourists and locals every year.
“Part of all this fundraising was so we could present a $1,000 check to the park itself,” Stearns said. “It’s a thank-you because the state keeps the road open and clear so we can do the [Christmas] star.”
Richardson said the check to the park would be made out to the state, as well, but would be earmarked for Mt. Battie State Park.
“The initial piece of the fundraising was for the restoration, the donation and a generator for the star,” said Stearns. “The rest is for what we call the legacy fund, which is for continued upkeep and that’s what we need the $8,000 for — a maintenance fund for upkeep of the tower, as is deemed necessary.”
The Friends of Mt. Battie Tower had 11 to 15 committee members at any given time, all working to raise the funds.
“It makes me feel fantastic at this point,” said Stearns.