Portland Mayor Kate Snyder presides over the first in-person City Council meeting since March 2020 on Monday. The council had been meeting remotely because of the pandemic. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The Portland City Council approved funding for $30.8 million in capital improvement projects Monday night, including money that will go toward initial planning for a new park on the city’s eastern waterfront.

The project list was approved unanimously after councilors also approved an amendment from Mayor Kate Snyder to put additional funding toward the Portland Harbor Common project without changing the total overall capital improvement budget.

“It’s a great example of the community coming together to provide opportunity and vision for Portland public space,” Snyder said.

Monday’s City Council meeting was the first to be held in person since March 2, 2020, when the pandemic forced the council to begin meeting remotely. Councilors sat separated by plexiglass dividers and did not wear masks, though some members of the public did. About 17 people attended the meeting in Council Chambers while others attended via Zoom.

The hybrid meeting was intended to be a test run for future in-person council and other meetings.

“We’re very much seeing tonight’s meeting as a pilot so we can see what’s working and what’s not working and we can make adjustments as we go forward,” Snyder said.


The capital improvement projects approved Monday for 2022-23 include equipment and technology upgrades, funding for the redesign of Congress Square, sidewalk and traffic signal improvements, the first phase of a roof replacement at Portland High School, and several sewer and storm water projects, including rehabilitation of the Stroudwater Dam.

The Portland Harbor Common project, which would turn public land currently used for parking along the eastern waterfront into a new park, will receive $150,000 for initial planning. Interim City Manager Danielle West had originally recommended $75,000, but Snyder said she hopes moving additional funds from Portland Ocean Terminal repairs to the park project would help it get off to a strong start. The funding for the repairs would be replaced in a later year as that project was always intended to be funded over multiple years.

Funding for capital improvement projects is approved each year separately from the annual operating budget, which is expected to be presented to the council next month. Capital project funding comes from a variety of sources including COVID relief dollars, city revenues and surplus funds. The council also authorized up to $21.1 million in general obligation bonds for the projects Monday.

The projects are not expected to affect the tax rate or increase net debt service related to capital improvement projects in future budgets because of other capital improvement debt that is being paid off.

In other news Monday, the council voted unanimously to renew an entertainment license for Urban Farm Fermentory on the condition that outdoor entertainment cease by 10 p.m. and indoor entertainment by 11 p.m. The city normally permits outdoor entertainment from 8 a.m. until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Indoor entertainment is typically permitted from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Urban Farm Fermentory is among a handful of businesses in the Bayside neighborhood, where neighbors have made noise complaints over the last year. The council said last month it would look at putting conditions on individual business licenses.


Eli Cayer, owner of Urban Farm Fermentory, said he was confused and disappointed by the conditions and told the council he has been working with the city to mitigate noise impacts.

“We have been compliant with the rules set forward by the City Council,” Cayer said. “We’ve worked very closely with the sound committee and have spent countless hours and dollars on sound proofing the space and making it a good experience for both the people who come here and the neighbors.”

Councilors said they support the conditions, but some said they would also like to revisit whether a broader policy should be applied in Bayside to address concerns about noise.

“It’s clear to me the business has put in some effort towards mitigating the sound complaints and I don’t fault the business,” said Councilor Anna Trevorrow, who represents District 1, including Bayside. “I just think it’s the proximity of the business to a residential area.”

Trevorrow said she has heard from neighbors that not all complaints get reported and that the conditions represent a good compromise.

“I have heard sentiments about perhaps this is better addressed through a broader policy … I would be interested in revisiting and getting that back on our agenda to see if we can have a broader policy around it,” Trevorrow said.

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