By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,650)
On Monday, November 21, the Portland City Council voted 8 – 1 to approve a purchase and sale agreement for 12,000 sq. ft. of property to CPB2LLC for $400,000. The dissenting vote came from Mayor Ethan Strimling who stated that the city should have squeezed more money for the property from the developer, Jim Brady, managing partner.
Jay Norris, president of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization, testified on behalf of the MHNO in opposition to the proposed agreement negotiated by the city’s Economic Development Director, Greg Mitchell. City Manager Jon Jennings is his supervisor. (Please see post herein dated November 22, 2016 for details on meeting.)
Recently the MHNO released a summary of its facts surrounding the agreement to the public. However, there were inaccuracies in the summary, presumably written by Norris, that are corrected herein.
In the first sentence of the Norris release, he stated that the property is “waterfront” property. However, the property is not waterfront property, but rather is inland from the Amethyst lot which is City owned. Norris asked for a delay in the vote until more voters had time to review and evaluate the city’s decision. In fact, this specific item has been on the city’s agenda at least nine (9) times as Councilor Thibodeau pointed out. The details of the proposed agreement became public by the Economic Development Committee on November 1st rather than on the Friday before the City Council meeting on November 21 as Norris stated.
It’s correct as Norris wrote that the City will receive $400,000 for the land. What Norris did not say is that the developer, CPB2LLC will be responsible for paying the full cost for the construction of the PUBLICLY accessible road that will be built on about 2/3 of the land purchased from the city.for $400,000. The developer will then own a small triangle of land upland and the city will continue to own the valuable waterfront land on the other side of the privately funded roadway.
Norris maintained that the city’s obligation to take about $1.2 million from the city’s 2017 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) funds to build an extension of of Thames Street to the developers’ site would likely adversely impact the city’s funding for other needs. However, Norris ignored Jennings’ comment that the City is committed to build the road for a number of good reasons. First, it will provide expanded access to the Amethyst lot – which is currently in the early stages of planning for a public space – possibly a marina. Second, the Thames Street extension will add value to the remaining city owned land that is on either side of the Thames Street extension. Third, the city is committed to expanding public infrastructure for the Ocean Gateway terminal and other waterfront development blocks. The $1.2 million Norris mentioned will BUILD A PUBLIC STREET ON CITY OWNED LAND, ABUTING CITY OWNED LAND – ON EITHER SIDE – THIS HAS BEEN AN ELEMENT OF THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR OVER A DECADE.
District 1 City Councilor Belinda Ray who supported the sale of the property to CPB2LLC was not interviewed for the MHNO release. However, she did write an extensive explanation of her position on her website/blog. Please visit: http://www.belindaray.me/blog for more.
The MHNO has repeatedly advertised to recruit a volunteer to attend city meetings to monitor city business. Apparently, no one has taken up that challenge.