Carol McCracken (Post # 2,356)
Leaders of the “Souls of Portland” filed a petition this morning at the city clerk’s office to place a referendum on the November ballot. If the signatures are certified by the city clerk’s office, a question that could prevent the development of 58 Fore Street from going forward will be on the fall ballot.
The “Souls”, a band of Hill activists, have been trying to stop the redevelopment of the valuable waterfront property since CPB2,, managed by Jim Brady, purchased the almost 10 acres of property from Phineas Sprague, Jr., former property owner several years ago.
Fifteen hundred (1,500) signatures are required by the City of Portland in order to place the matter on the fall ballot. The Souls filed 118 pages of signatures according to Melissa LaChance, Election Administrator, in the City Clerk’s Office today. There are spaces for about 25 signatures on each page, although each page was not completely filled. LaChance and the city staff have until Monday, July 20th to determine how many of these signatures are registered Portland voters and to be certified.
The “Souls” have laced their rhetoric with exaggerations and lots of misinformation from the get-go – hoping that something will stick like flies stuck on flypaper. It’s their intent to scare the public into believing that Brady’s proposal is a bad deal for the City of Portland. (Only one (1) block of view is in dispute by the Souls, but they don’t want anyone to know that. Furthermore, it would improve the view of 2 or maybe 3 people in the one block. One of the properties is currently for sale.Its sales price relies somewhat on the view in front of it.) For short-sighted reasons, the Souls would prefer to see the former Portland Yacht Services property abandoned and left to decay rather than have it used to increase the much-needed tax base from which the City operates.
That despite the fact that Nini McManamy, one of the leaders of the “Souls” has criticized the city’s high property tax rate which could force her from Munjoy Hill – or to take other action. All while local economists have documented the obvious benefits of an increased tax base to the City of Portland overall that would follow the redevelopment of 58 Fore Street. (McManamy was one of the anti-narrow gauge railroad leaders on the same property in the early 90’s. It was a ‘down and dirty’ fight that failed, but succeeded in pitting neighbor against neighbor on Munjoy Hill.)
“We’re encouraged by the broad community support for the 58 Fore Street redevelopment and remain committed to the shared vision set forth in the Eastern Waterfront Master Plan – focused on revitalizing 58 Fore with a vibrant and diverse mix of uses, encouraging public access to the waterfront, and year-round enjoyment for all of the Portland community. Soul of Portland’s referendum will not only kill the 58 Fore Street project, but other thoughtful development as well and in a time of housing supply issues and budgetary shortfalls, This referendum is both short-sighted and detrimental to all of Portland’s residents. We’re building a strong- broad-based coalition committed to defeating the referendum,” said Jim Brady, CPB2 LLC in a statement today.