Amethyst Lot Development Before City Committee; Public or Private?

The Water from Amtheyst Lot Looking Toward The Cat Ferry.

Casco Bay from Amtheyst Lot Looking Toward The Cat – A Car Ferry to Nova Scotia.

A Rendering for the Area in 1993, Before Portland Trails was Constructed.

A Rendering for the Area in 1993, Before Portland Trails was Constructed.

Councilor David Brennerman, Chair of the Economic Development Committee

Councilor David Brennerman, Chair of the Economic Development Committee

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 2,698)

Right now it’s an eyesore. But it has so much potential to be so much more!

Nicknamed Amethyst Lot, it’s  a  waste of scarce waterfront property. To its east is SailMaine – a community based sailing program that could be the center-piece of the space.  Therein lies much of the inspiration for what could be for this neglected piece of property in the future.

City leaders would like to transform this wasted space  into a public space for community fun.

For about fifteen (15) years now, the Amethyst Lot on the Portland waterfront has been talked about as a potential development site for public access, including a community sailing program.  Now it is a priority of city manager Jon Jennings. How to go about it will be the topic of talks in the coming days and weeks.

Bill Needelman, Waterfront Coordinator of Portland, presented a comprehensive overview to the city’s Economic Development Committee this afternoon, David Brennerman, Chair. Needelman, a long-time city employee, said he was looking for no decisions, but sought feedback from the Committee should members have any.

This past Friday, a group of stakeholders met to develop a draft statement on goals and purposes. The stakeholders were made up of numerous department heads appointed by Jennings according to Needelman.  Representatives from the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum & Railroad and Maine DOT, as well as city councilor Belinda Ray, from District 1 have been invited to become stakeholders as well.

Needelman laid out a timeline from which he emphasized he could not deviate. Among the  eleven (11) stated milestones  are:   An RFP for consulting services will be issued between September and November 2016.  A public forum is scheduled for February of 2017.  It is anticipated that the proposal will go to the full Council for approval and a public hearing next summer.

Although he asked for an opportunity to address the Committee and did not receive it, Alan Graves a businessman who has long coveted the opportunity to develop the area  into a high-end, private marina, attended the briefing.  Also with Graves was attorney Chris O’Neil, who was formerly, a liaison from the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce to the City.  O’Neil has advised him in the past during Graves’ repeated efforts and failed efforts to develop a floating marina on the Portland waterfront. Graves presence did not go unnoticed however. Chair Brennerman asked Needelman if there was room for private development on site. Brennerman may have answered his own question when he said he didn’t want too many things going on in such a small space.

The name Amythest Park dates back when  “Cianbro Brothers was located there and did work on rigs.  There was general agreement that the name should be changed to a better one.

“There are lots of talks going on about this,” said O’Neil following the meeting at city hall to this blogger.

The Committee went into executive session to discuss the possible sale of public property  located on the East End of Portland.  (Bill Needelman stayed for the executive session, so does that suggest to anyone but this blogger that it might involve waterfront property?!)