By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,613)
“In this period of change, if the port of Portland does not change, we will lose our opportunity to become part of the next century, If we don’t evolve with the markets, waterfront industries won’t be able to grow,” Bill Needelman, waterfront coordinator, told about sixty (60) people at a city required meeting following a frustrating dialogue with West Enders who remained unconvinced that the “wall” would be in the best interests of everyone. Needelman cited the reduction in the petroleum industry, wood and paper business and others that require Portland to change the way it does business to remain competitive.
Americold, a Georgia based company, has a cold storage facility on Read Street, but Needelman said it’s too old a facility to be used in this instance. Built in the 50’s, it currently services sixty (60) businesses according to its manager, Michelle Brooks.
It was the Portand Port Authority, John Henshaw, Executive Director, that issued the RFP, not the city of Portland. There were two (2) responses to the RFP and Americold was chosen over the other response.
The City is seeking a zone change to permit a 45 ft. to 70 ft. warehouse on the waterfront to accommodate the cold storage warehouse needs of Americold. It’s a Georgia based company that wants to construct a facility to support EIMSKIP, a North Atlantic container shipping company as well as other businesses in the area. The warehouse will also house dry goods and office space for 20 full-time employees on the top floor. Parking for employees will be at the base of the building.
At the outset, Needelman tried to lay down the parameters of the meeting. He wanted to stick to discussing three options the planning board will consider on November 27th. Needelman asked: “Can this structure evolve to make you happy?” But that discussion went largely unheeded as West Enders focused on height issues that would block views, quality of life and congestion issues. Tuck O’Brien, city planning director, tried to steer the discussion from issues that were discussed at a planning board meeting on October 25th (see Post herein, # 2,602, dated October 26, 2016,). Greg Mitchell, Director of the Economic Development Office also spoke briefly.
Again, West Enders were not to be distracted from their antipathy for the proposal.
“Don’t destroy the rest of the city for expansion. What we say doesn’t matter at all. It’s a done deal,” shouted Solvia Robertson, former owner of the Whip & Spoon in the Old Port. Sustained applause followed. “Could the footprint be extended over the water? Wharves and piers have always been a big part of the waterfront,” asked Stephen Small. Needelman said he’d talk to Americold about that option.
“Is there a web site for this?” asked Pamela Shaw, who also attended the planning board meeting on October 25. Needelman said there weren’t plans for one currently. (The City is trying to rush this through so quickly that a web page is the last item on their minds, mhn.com believes.)
Joy Coyne said: “I don’t believe we have to be locked in to 70 ft.,” Another West End resident urged people to express their opposition to the planning board.
Tuck O’Brien, planning director, said there will be another public meeting on November 22, at city hall, although details were not available at the time. Currently, Needelman expects the zone change to be read for the first time at a city council meeting in December. The required second read will come in January with a public hearing and vote by the City Council.
One West Ender asked that the process schedule as set to date, be delayed because of the up-coming holidays.
Pleas email Bill Needeman, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Please visit several past posts on the subject herein, including the planning board meeting post dated October 26, 2016.