La Vida Local: Irregular Notes on West End Life
Americold Neighborhood Meeting Announced
by Rosanne Graef, Past President – WENA
UPDATE: Due to weather, the neighborhood meeting on Americold development on the waterfront is rescheduled for Monday, February 27th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Reiche Community Room.
Today’s Topic: Americold – A Neighborhood Responds
In the late afternoon of a sloppy, drizzly January 24th, the Portland Planning Board held a workshop in City Hall Council Chambers on the proposed zoning text amendments for the Waterfront Port Development Zone (WPDZ) along West Commercial Street. This workshop had been postponed from December 13th. Please note that at least one more workshop will be scheduled before the Planning Board makes its recommendation.
The Economic Development office of Portland is recommending zoning amendments that would allow Americold to construct a 120,000-square foot, 75-foot-high cold and dry storage warehouse. The location of the development is on land leased from the Maine Port Authority. If passed, the amendments could change the height requirements for all buildings between the Casco Bay Bridge and Veterans Bridge.
For the past several months, this issue has been in the news. Also, various public and by-invitation-only meetings have been held where State and City officials, as well as those with commercial interest in the proposal, made presentations and argued their cases. While these meetings have been informative and somewhat helpful, there’s a piece that’s missing. Namely, we need neighborhood discussion without the rushed anxiety of the public comment periods or frequently pat answers of “experts.”
If you live in the West End, especially if you live between Danforth Street and Commercial Street, and are concerned about how livable your neighborhood will be in the future, you should plan to attend and participate in an informative neighborhood discussion. The meeting date and time is to be announced after weather caused a postponement. The meeting will be on Monday, February 27th in the Reiche Community Room (166 Brackett Street). Please use the new entrance on Clark Street to access the upstairs Community Room via the elevator or the stairs.
Several neighborhood members who have been attending presentations and meetings on this topic since last summer will be there to explain some of the background and answer questions.
- Who are Eimskip? Americold? IMT? MPA?
- Why is a cold storage facility necessary on West Commercial Street? How large does this facility need to be?
- What kinds of goods would be handled at the facility?
- How many new jobs and what type of jobs will be created?
- What is the purpose of the Waterfront Port Development Zone?
- What has changed since the existing waterfront zoning was put in place in 1993?
- An intermodal logistics hub is proposed for the western waterfront. What does this mean?
- Why do opponents object to the cold storage facility?
- Do opponents just want to protect their views at the cost of economic activity?
- What would be the impact of increasing the building height to 75 feet across the entire zone, not just where the proposed cold storage facility would be located?
- How could this affect the traffic, noise, property values and quality of life in the adjacent residential neighborhood?
- What impact could this have on tourism and Portland’s image as a desirable community in which to live or visit?
- Why is this moving so quickly? How can I get involved in the decision-making process?
- How can we find the appropriate balance?
Spencer Thibodeau, District 2 (West End – Parkside) City Councilor, will attend to hear your questions and concerns. The meeting will begin with a short introduction of the proposal and answers to some of the questions above. After the presentation, it will be turned over to a moderated discussion for all in attendance. Please plan to attend.