Conflict On The Waterfront
October 11, 2010
City officials in Portland, Maine, tried to move a small bait operation located on the waterfront after a law office complained about its aesthetics, according to a report in today’s Portland Press Herald.
The report states that a flurry of e-mails late this spring indicates that city officials were worried that a small bait operation on the Portland Fish Pier could derail a multimillion-dollar waterfront law office project and redevelopment of the Cumberland Cold Storage building. After a Pierce Atwood partner e-mailed the city on May 30 to complain about the refrigerated trailers and bait containers — saying they “totally transform the site from a potential first-class waterfront rehabilitation project to an industrial wasteland” — city officials quickly determined the trailers blocked emergency access to a small portion of the pier and said they would have to be moved.
The e-mails, obtained by The Portland Press Herald under a Freedom of Information request, make it clear that the city wanted the Dropping Springs Bait operation moved to satisfy Pierce Atwood’s concerns about the aesthetics along a central portion of Portland’s working waterfront after the law firm threatened to pull out of the $12 million project to move into the former warehouse. City officials contended at the time that public safety concerns prompted the change in location for Dropping Springs Bait, even though the access concerns were first raised by the city’s top economic development official only after the Pierce Atwood complaint.
The conflict on the waterfront between traditional marine uses, which are often smelly, noisy and unattractive, and upscale office and residential uses has been a subject of debate in Portland for decades.