NORTH HAVEN — On July 13, the Brown family will celebrate 125 years of doing business on the shores of the Fox Islands Thorofare. As impressive an accomplishment as that longevity is, it’s not enough for Rachel Brown and her cousin, Adam Alexander.

The two want to restore Brown’s Coal Wharf as a marina serving the steady summer boat traffic that passes through the protected waters separating North Haven and Vinalhaven. And in doing so, they also want to boost foot traffic on the North Haven streets that line the shore.

Brown went public with her plans on March 24 at Point Lookout in Northport during her graduation from the Island Institute’s ISLE program, an intensive entrepreneur and leadership training initiative.

Typically, waterfront development — even when it’s fixing up an existing structure — can mean navigating a challenging permitting obstacle course. But for Brown and Alexander, working through the complex web of family ownership, expectations, tradition and relationships will be more daunting, both say.

Rachel’s father, James Brown, her uncle Foy Brown and his son (and her cousin) Foy operate the J.O. Brown & Son boat yard, along with Kim Alexander, who is Adam’s mother, and Linda Crockett.

The boat yard’s wharf is adjacent to the coal wharf Rachel wants to restore.

And, adding further complexity to the web, the boat yard business also is half-owner of the coal wharf.

With this family context, Rachel sees her role in business endeavors as the one who looks to the future. At 41, she’s not content to ride out the niche the family has found.

“I step in as a kind of visionary,” Brown said, describing the potential she sees for the coal wharf.

In the summer, the thorofare is a natural connector for sail and power boats whose owners are exploring the eastern and western reaches of Penobscot Bay. The thoroughfare is the place for boats to be refueled — the boat yard sells fuel — and a natural place for mariners to land to stretch their legs.

“It’s just a gold mine waiting to be developed,” she said. “Right now, they just pass by.”

Brown and Alexander say a marina-type business at the coal wharf, where boaters could comfortably tie up and use showers and electrical hook-ups, buy fuel, ice and perhaps some prepared food to take with them, is needed.

“We go out in the boat a lot,” Brown said, and her family has come to appreciate the services and amenities available for boaters at businesses like Journey’s End in Rockland and Billings Diesel & Marine in Stonington, which sell fuel, offer repairs and parts, holding-tank pump-out, showers and laundry facilities.

But it’s a fine line between being seen as the family visionary and a boat rocker, Brown admits. She is blunt in describing the attitudes of some in her family about the wharf, which is rapidly deteriorating, suggesting they would be happy to see it crumble into the water.

Alexander put it more diplomatically: “Like most family businesses, they’ve been doing it one way,” and don’t see a need to change, he said. “They just sort of write it off.”

But Brown clearly respects the older generation, citing comments by Foy Brown, quoted in an Island Journal publication more than 20 years ago, in which he predicted more and more recreational boat traffic in the thorofare. He was right, she said, and now someone has to step up to provide services for those boats.

The family operated a restaurant in a building at the land end of the wharf for 24 years, but that structure — an older residence with two newer additions — also is in rough shape. The restaurant closed last year.

Brown said she has gotten an estimate of $320,000 for upgrading the building.

Though both Brown and Alexander see the business potential, they also speak with passion about the need to bring vitality to the village area.

“This is one of the busiest channels in Maine,” Alexander observed.

“There were times when this was a booming town,” he added, remembering the year lobster boat races were held there. “There were lines at every vendor.” Business owners said they were “swamped with business,” he remembers.

Today, “There’s no place where a sailor or a fisherman can tie up and look around the town.”

Brown also remembers more foot traffic in town when the coal wharf was an active business.

“I feel, for North Haven itself, this needs to happen,” she said of the business plan.

Brown has worked at the boat yard and at the restaurant. Alexander currently works at the boat yard. Both say a marina operation like they envision would divert much of the high-maintenance, low-return sort of stops at the boat yard, so that business could focus on its core mission, repairing boats.

Family members hold the veto pen, though, and Brown, Alexander and Alexander’s mother, Kim hope the others will be willing to let them run with their idea.

“One-hundred and twenty-five years from now I hope it’s still in the Brown family,” she said. Her vision, Brown believes, will increase the odds of that being the case.