Carol McCracken (Post # 2,362)
Last night the Historic Preservation Board approved a draft designation report prepared by staff at its request. The nine page Report lays out the Board’s justification for designating the almost 10 acres of waterfront property as a Local Historic District. Deb Andrews is the Historic Preservation Program Manager.
The HP Board has been deliberating for months now including numerous workshops and two site visits to 58 Fore Street in order to issue this final report. Amendments to the Report will be made and reviewed once again before it is passed on to the city’s planning board on July 28 for its review. The planning board’ recommendation will then be forwarded on to the city council for its action.
This Designation Report is based partially on two studies paid for by the Portland Planning Department. One is the Sutherland Conservation Report and the other was prepared by Resurgence Engineering and Preservation. Another report prepared by Paul Becker was commissioned by CPB2 and is in alignment with much of the Resurgence report.
The property at 58 Fore Street, a/k/a the Portland Company complex, was purchased by Jim Brady several years ago from Phin Sprague, Jr., owner of the historic property.
Representing the “Souls” at the Board meeting was Hill resident and real estate attorney Barbara Vestal The Souls are a band of Hill activists dedicated to stopping the development of this almost 10 acres of property in order to preserve the views of one block on Fore Street across the street. Apparently,the Souls’ preference is to abandon the property and leave it to decay rather than realize the economic benefits of its redevelopment by CPB2, Jim Brady, manager, to the entire metropolitan Portland area.
Barbara Vestal was one of the core group who was opposed to the establishment of the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum & Railroad on the same property in the early 90’s. The Museum is slated to move to Gray by the end of 2017. It is currently seeking funding to make this move. It is unknown at this time whether or not the mini-trains will continue to have a presence in Portland beyond that date.
The HP Board plans to give the final Designation Report one more perusal before forward it on to the Planning Board for its July 28th agenda.