May 5 was the 30th anniversary of the 1987 working waterfront referendum that sought “to secure marine-related uses on the Portland waterfront.” Portland residents, alarmed over the condominium and other non-marine uses that were displacing water-dependent businesses, voted 2-to-1 in favor of the zoning change.

In my May 5 Maine Voices column, “Portland waterfront receives mixed grade on 30-year report card,” it was not made clear what groups comprised the Working Waterfront Coalition, the local and statewide interests that put the vote to the people.

The coalition members were the Maine Fishermen’s Cooperative Association; the Maine Lobstermen’s Association; Local No. 6 of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers; the National Maritime Union; the Casco Bay Island Development Association; the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Association; Keep the Port in Portland; the Portland West Neighborhood Planning Council; the Greater Portland Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO); Don’t Kill the Hill; and the Neighborhood Action Coalition.

This victory slowed the loss of the working waterfront; the flourishing Eimskip cargo port on the western waterfront is exciting proof of that. But now, city leaders seem eager to relinquish most of the eastern and central waterfronts to huge blocks of offices, hotel rooms, parking garages, more retail, more restaurants and possibly more condos.

In addition to the huge non-marine buildings planned for the central waterfront, the Wex, Inc. proposal and the planned Faneuil Hall-like development in the East End will further clog commercial traffic on Commercial Street, interfering with the timely delivery and pickup of perishable seafood, for example.

And worse, they will ultimately crowd out and price out the lobster and other sea-based industries, which, unlike hotels, condos and office buildings, cannot locate across the street. We have all been to cities that have done just that, and “there is no there there.”

Karen Sanford

South Portland

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