After two years of a major funding campaign, the new Friends of Fort Gorges saw a piece of their progress Monday morning in the form of several tons of granite being air lifted to the site. The granite stones, already cut to specifications will be used in the first phases of the near one hundred and fifty year old site's rehabilitation. That according to Paul Drinan, Executive Director of the Friends of Ft. Gorges.
The stones are being used for repairs to the fort's granite staircase which leads from the second tier casemates, to the site's parapet on the top level. The repair work is part of a hazard mitigation program to be completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This particular is needed for contractors to have a safe passage to the fort's north parapet where a viewing platform will be installed in 2017.
The chopper, operated by Whitefield, Maine-based Maine Helicopters, Inc., conducted multiple sorties from the Cutter Street parking lot of the Eastern Promenade. Each flight used a lift strap attached to each group of stones and ferried them to the fort where an arrival crew, including Drinan and his team, waited to guide them to a staging area.
After this initial project is complete, the Army Corps of Engineers is expected to begin their portion of the project, sometime in the spring of 2017. That project's aim is to install a series of railings and gates throughout the fort to increase safety for the many casual visitors who reach the fort by swimming, boat and kayak. In a Friday afternoon update, the City said its plans are to bring the structure up to a standard allowing for organized groups safer access for historical tours, musical and theater performances and other public events.
According to a statement release by the City of Portland, the work will be conducted during three primary phases: the initial Hazard Mitigation Phase, a Preservation Phase, and a Restoration and Improvement Phase.
That second phase consists of evaluation and strengthening the overall structure. Funding for the Preservation Plan will be provided by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Friends of Fort Gorges.
Following the completion of the Preservation Plan, the City of Portland and Friends of Fort Gorges will begin a more comprehensive restoration and improvement phase aimed at seeking public input for future uses and activities.