Let’s look at Portland’s working-waterfront development moratorium impartially. Essentially, this comes down to prioritizing maritime industry versus hospitality on our shores. But we can’t forget that our urban planning vision plays a huge part in this overall plan.

The maritime community needs this space to support their livelihood, and the hospitality sector needs it for their business. Sure, Portland generates more in tourism these days, but I think it’s important to realize that we need to prepare the Portland area to succeed in the next 100 years instead of just for the tourism boom that we’re enjoying right now.

Objectively, shoreline should be reserved for maritime activities because, well, it’s hard to move a fishing slip inland. And through the larger lens, developing the waterfront in a collaborative way that supports fishing and intermodal and mixed industrial uses is key to creating a balanced economy that will thrive long term.

If you aren’t convinced, look at strong ports like Halifax, Seattle or Portland, Oregon. The industry doesn’t hinder the beauty of the ports; it complements it. Indeed, they are still a tourism mecca. Hotels and residences are still in the city – they’re just built higher in a beautiful, modern way that creates a truly distinctive landscape that complements the old. This creates an effective, balanced microeconomy – all thanks to a strong master plan.

City government must effectively understand what is right for a community and execute that plan. And a great community embraces change and seeks compromise that benefits everyone. What we can’t do is linger too long on this. Indecision by the city hurts the community – look no further than the stunted growth of the Kennebec Street corridor or West Commercial Street. Sure, developers are rash and impulsive, but if their plan aligns with ours, why let them spend their money elsewhere?

Jake Thomas

South Portland


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