By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,618)
Mayor Michael Brennan, with a consortium behind him yesterday morning at Ocean Gateway Terminal, described to those present what the passage of the bond referendum will mean to transportation and commerce along the Portland waterfront: it means a very bright future for both the Mayor said.
First, it will provide $3 million for dredging Portland’s waterfront to open up access to the piers to support increased commerce. The dredging will be done in early January. Charlie Poole, president of Union Wharf and Custom Float Services said that since we do business on a river, we will always need to dredge the bottom of the river. “That will never go away,” Poole said. Bill Needleman, the recently appointed Waterfront coordinator, will start work on this next week. Second, the bond money provides $1 – 2 million for Ocean Gateway facility upgrades to support passenger ferry service to Nova Scotia. It is expected that Nova Star Cruises will begin to make ferry runs starting on May 1, 2014 and run until November 2nd, 2014. Unlike its predecessor, The Cat, there will be a multitude of activities on board to keep passengers entertained during the trip between Nova Scotia and Portland.
Third, $1 million will be dedicated to badly needed improvements for the Fish Exchange facility. Burt Jongerdon, General Manager of the Exchange, said improvements to the facility built in 1987 will include repairing a leaky roof. Fourth, $ 9,000,000.00 will be available for property acquisition, rail connectivity and sie preparation at the International Marine Terminal in support of Eimskip cargo shipping services. This last investment will help open up the Port of Portland for more international trade and help re-establish Portland as a transportation hub. Money will also be available for a planning study supporting an improved rail and bus intermodal facility at Thompson’s Point. City councilor David Marshall said: “It’s great to have all these parts coming together. There will be a study costing $35,000 to do this. It will better connect Thompson’s Point with downtown. We used to have one of the best rail systems in the country.”
The Mayor also announced that the city expects to see some plans from Jim Brady’s investment group for the waterfront property he purchased from Phin Sprague, Jr. earlier this year. Known as the Portland Company, it was Portland’s most significant industrial complex for years.
State Senate President, Justin Alfond (D), of Munjoy Hill said: “There has been a lot of noise for three years in Augusta, but we can overlook it when we have great days like today. The Mayor has us working together to make sure we get things done for Portland.” He went on to say that he talks to business leaders around the State and most say that transportation costs are too high in Maine “Get them down,” Alfond said. “This will help.”
edior’s note: Charlie Poole, President of Union Wharf and Custom Float Services, will be receiving the 2013 Economic Development Achievement on the afternoon of December 4th. Poole’s family has owned Union Wharf since the 1800s.