“What’s become of the Eastern Promenade and Thompson’s Point is fantastic,” said Nathan Tower this afternoon as he towed his two young children in a wagon toward the line of food trucks located on the east end of Portland. “Spring is here and it’s great to get the kids outside,” he said. It was the overwhelming sentiment of visitors to the Eastern Promenade today on a sunny, warm day in Portland – many with children using the nearby playground.
One Washington Avenue business man with two young children recently told this blogger there is a lack of free activities for young children in Portland. Perhaps that lack of free activities for young children accounts for all of the activity on the playground on the Eastern Promenade, especially during the pandemic.
What made many of the visitors to the Eastern Promenade food trucks angry was a plan city hall hatched to remove the incrediblly popular food trucks to a parking lot off Cutter Street and off the Eastern Promenade. The shortness of the public notice given.to food truck owners before it appeared on the city council’s agenda was partciularly annoying to many, including this blogger, frankly.
The announcement of the plan in a press release issued by the city at 6:00 pm the Friday evening before the plan was to appear on the city council’s agenda, gave the public only three days notice to learn its details. Most likely an intentional strategy by the city’s interim city manager West, to catch food truck owners and their supporters off guard. This three day notice to the press ONLY gave insufficent time to food truck operators and their supporters to present their feed-back to West, who was solely responsible for the decision..
City hall maintains communication information for each of the licensed food truck owners. Why didn’t the communications department send a copy of that press release or a similar statement to that list? West did not want their feed-back clearly. As has been stated previously in this blog, West, a city atorney as well, never reconvened a city task force that had been established years ago to set up the details regulating food trucks in Portland. Clearly, West didn’t want feed back from all parties on this move. As a long-time city attorney, West knows better. That there was a right way to handle the issue – but then who ever accused Portland of doing the right thing?”
A second issue that has angered many, including this blogger, is that a measly ten spaces have been reserved for the parking lot off Cutter Street for food trucks and their customers. If more than ten truckers apply for those spaces, the whole matter will go to a lottery. One food truck owner said recently: “It’s really hard to execute a business plan based on a lottery.” He’d spent the winter making rennovations to his truck, hiring staff and adjusting his menu expecting to do business on the Eastern Promenade this season. The unexpected lottery so late in his planning could change all of that planning. Another food truck owner told this blogger that there are issues that need to be resolved on the Eastern Promenade. But rather than deal with them and resolve them, the city has chosen to move those issues to another part of the east end of Portland. There will be issues in the parking lot off Cutter Street.
The city of Portland touts itself as process oriented in its deliberations and decisions; apparently process didn’t apply in this situation.. Shame on city hall!
As of last Friday, there were thirty-eight licensed food truck ownes in Portland according to a list forwarded to this blogger by the city’s spokeswoman. City spokeswoman Grondin also said the dead line for applications for those precious ten spots at the parking lot off Cutter Street is Monday, May 23rd at 4:30 pm. The number of applications for those ten spots will be official on Tuesday, May 24. Mhn.com expects to have that information from the city on Tuesday.
“The idea that the city has come up with is unbelievable,” said Ira Lefifer, a nearby resident of the Eastern Promenade. “It would be really difficult for parents and their children to get down to Cutter Street for the food trucks.”
“I love the organic growth that these food trucks have brought to the Eastern Promade. “I sympathezie with the neighbors who think it might be too noisey. It’s a public park and they belong here. It’s their right to be here,” said Cory Sims. “The city can support them in other ways rather than evicting them.”
“It’s nice to be able to come down here and get a good selection of food from the food trucks. Each truck is so unique. It made my day better,” said Megan Kudlack, “It’s the Portland experience. I think that this location gives small businesses the opportunity they need at this time to get established,” said Kudlack, She is a childrens’ book illustrator with a children’s book, “Buddy the Bullfrog, currently in pre-sale.
Many today said they had signed an on-line petition to prevent the move from the Eastern Prom to the busy Cutter Street parking lot. It’s available on Change.org. The goal is to reach 5,000 signatures with more than 4,100 names on it as of this afternoon.
The Eastern Prom is indeed a park. It was esbablished by a firm originally established by Frederick Law Olmstead, folliwng his death. Olmstead a New Englander, was known as the father of landscape architect. He designed Central Park in New York City as well as other well-known public spaces in the US.
For more background information on the food truckers crisis herein, please visit posts dated May 5, 2022, May 1, 2022 and April 29, 2022.