Seventy three (73) west enders came together last night at a neighborhood meeting to learn more about the city’s effort to change an ordinance that would permit the construction of a 75 ft. massive cold storage warehouse on the western waterfront – an area of Portland with deep industrial roots.
The ordinance change that the city’s Economic Development Office says is necessary to keep the waterfront competitive in this fast changing market. But the effort has provoked anger by numerous residents of the west end. The process is slowing down – a statement coming from District 2 Councilor Spencer Thibodeau – a good thing he insinuated. But not everyone agrees with his assessment. (Please read post herein dated November 1, 2016 about the Economic Development Committee meeting.)
Perhaps the slowing of the process is a strategy put in place by the city to dissipate the passions of the Resisters and create a cooling off period to pave the way for a smoother implementation of the ordinance change at a future date. However, Jo Coyne urged everyone to keep pressuring the city by writing letters to city councilors, the mayor, the planning office and the local newspapers – expressing their opposition to the massiveness of the warehouse.
Thibobeau attended as a “listener” and took no questions, although he said that he could not support the ordinance change at this time. As a member of the Economic Development Committee, he expressed no concerns about the height at the Committee’s November 1, 2016 meeting in which he participated.
Following several presentations regarding the history of the area, the city’s process and current zoning, residents were free to vent their concerns in the two-hour meeting at Reiche School on Portland’s west end. The meeting was complete with detailed handouts prepared by the presenters.
Sally Oldham asked: “Why doesn’t this group come up with an alternative vision for this location?” “The group is against the construction of a 75 ft. high building. Do we need to go down the path to an alternative?” asked Ian Jacobs, moderator of the meeting.
But that did not stop opponents from venting their anger about the Americold project that would support the expanding business of EIMSKIP, a container shipping company, who recently moved its North American headquarters to West Commercial Street. The reason for choosing Portland is the deep water port here as well as the opportunity the Icelandic company would have to be an important player in a small city according to a city official last year.
Only a small percentage of the massive warehouse would be dedicated for use by Americold. “This building is more about – build it and they will come,” said one opponent of the massive warehouse. AMERICOLD, through its local representative, Jed Stenglass, of Woodard & Curran, has said that a 75 ft. warehouse is the only financially viable option for this site. Steinglass attended the neighborhood meeting last night, but did not speak.
“I’m scared of what this will look like in a few years. I’m scared to death, We must keep this group strong,” said west end resident Mike Stone. “It’s disappointing that the city is working to build such as massive wall that would change the character of the city,” said Reeven ? David Hulbert, expressed concern about the estheists of the warehouse. “This is the gate way to the city. The view of the waterfront will be lost,” he said.
“City hall can’t be trusted. Here we are again. Keep up the pressure,” said Eli Dale.
For more information, please email Jo Coyne at email@example.com