“Waterfront Working Group” Progresses at First Meeting of Many Yet to Come

Willis Spears, Bill Coopersith and Keith Lane, Representatives of the Fishing Industry Following the “Working Waterfront Group” Today.

“Keep collecting signatures,” recommended Keith Lane, to volunteers collecting signatures to place an amended ordinance on the municipal ballot in May of 2019. That comment came following a two-hour discussion on how the parties, the lobstermen, wharf owners, and the city of Portland can work collaboratively to address the issues that have plagued them for years: The growing intrusion by development on the Portland waterfront. Volunteers have collected 2,200 signatures when only 1,500 verified signatures are required. The completed petitions need to be submitted by January 18 in order to be verified by the city clerk for placement on the May ballot.

The proposed Bateman hotel on a wharf, part of a large waterfront development, is the catalyst for the referendum according to Willis Spears, one of the three leaders of the movement. City manager Jon Jennings responded that: “We can eliminate the hotel on the project.” Clearly, he was fully aware that city councilors would not support the Bateman hotel on a wharf. So, it was an easy “give” for Jennings because he gave up nothing at all for the city. (Jennings once worked at the Clinton White House).The fishing industry reps emphasized repeatedly they wanted the city ordinance to be amended that under no circumstances can hotels be built on wharves. “We don’t want to deal with this again in ten years,” said Keith Lane. City manager Jon Jennings said the city doesn’t want to deal with it again either.

A list of other issues to be addressed at future meetings was submitted by Willis Spears, spokesperson for the group.

A decision on whether or not to proceed with the referendum will be made following the next meeting of Jennings’ Working Waterfront Group. That is scheduled for Thursday, January 17th at city hall from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Friday, January 18th, is the deadline for the recipient of the petitions to be filed with the city clerk’s office for verification.

City manager Jon Jennings offered to provide captains of fishing boats car stickers that can be used by employees to ease the parking issues. However, this blogger does not understand how this will increase the number of parking spaces on the waterfront as they continue to dwindle with each new development that the city approves.

Please see post herein dated December 28, 2018 for more background information on the ‘Working Waterfront Group.”