The Portland City Council voted this evening
to place the “Souls of Portland” referendum on the ballot this November 3, 2015. The move gives voters of Portland an opportunity to decide the fate of almost ten acres of privately owned property at 58 Fore Street – property that the core group has long coveted to bring under its control. The vote, taking place just before 11:00 pm., followed a lengthy discussion which resulted in revising a”summary” to be on the November ballot. The summary, as prepared by the Souls, was determined by the Council to not be neutral. which is required by election law. The Council changed it to comply with election law and thus neutral in its content.
The “Souls”, a band of Munjoy Hill NIMBYs, is dedicated to preventing the redevelopment of 58 Fore Street, unless it is done on its terms. Terms designed to prevent any successful redevelopment by imposing unnwarranted regulation about ‘scenic views’ that CPB2 LLC manager Jim Brady called the “most restrictive area’ in the State of Maine” upon which building can take place. The scenic views are protected through the creation of four 50′-wide view corridors, a fact that the Souls ignore in order to get their anti-development message embedded in the publics’ conscious.
Anne Rand, spokesperson for the Souls, hammered the city’s Planning Office for “turning this city into another Boston” and catering to the needs of developers. Rand, told mhn.com several months ago that she is opposed to any development at the former Portland Yacht Services sight as are many of the Souls members. Who knew?
Former City Councilor Orlando deLogue lent a more realistic tone to the discussion at city council chambers than the Souls. He told the overflow crowd that the Souls “has missed the larger picture. “Portland is not just views……………it’s a city that meets an array of regional needs…..that needs a growing tax base to sustain itself.. He pointed out that the views must not be “romanticized” by the Souls. It’s been overgrown for at least the last ten years, blocking views anyway.
CPB2 LLC manager Jim Brady told the City Council that, contrary to the propaganda spread by the Souls, there will be public access down to the waterfront. He pointed out that the city needs all types of housing, it needs jobs and he detailed once again the tax revenue the city would receive by this redevelopment of waterfront property. A public plaza near the water is planned – all facts that the Souls ignore in order to fan the flames of fear among Portland residents.
“In short, I believe the initiative is misguided. It takes a one-dimensional approach to city needs it will make development of this site prohibitively costly; it is out of step with the Eastern Waterfront Master Plan; it will cost jobs and rob us of a sorely needed tax base if adopted. I hope the Portland community will turnout in November and vote NO – we need a larger vision of our city than the Soul people have offered us,” said deLogue in his closing remarks.
“This was a good change that makes sure that people will get a clear summary of what the referendum does. If they have questions, they can read it on the ballot,” said attorney Nathan Smith.
Cost to Portland taxpayers for placing the two page referendum on the November ballot is $10,000 – a cause initiated by the short-sighted Souls. .
What matters to you? Listening to the short-sighted propaganda of the Souls or helping the overall financial health of the City of Portland by increasing its tax base and adding job opportunities?