Six months ago, we decided to become citizen advocates committed to help in the creation of a bold and visionary comprehensive plan for South Portland. We outlined some of our intentions in these pages in June 2023. Jim has extensive experience in the private sector, working in ports on both the East Coast and the southern coasts. This has given him a different perspective from Tim’s career in local government.

Our focus was on “Imagining the Possibilities – The Redevelopment of the South Portland Waterfront.” We reached out to many people and groups, including the Waterfront Alliance and waterfront stakeholders who would have an interest in what we were proposing.

Unfortunately, we have not been successful inour efforts to include a bold vision along with concrete goals for the waterfront as a central part of the comprehensive plan currently being developed. The comprehensive plan’s citizens’ committee recently completed its final vision and goals statement for the Vision 2040 Plan. Unfortunately, the waterfront has not been recognized as one of its six core themes.

Our efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

With our circle of citizen advocates, we have done our best to work with the comprehensive plan’s citizen advisory committee. We have offered, in writing and through public testimony, four different iterations of our vision and goals for the waterfront. We have participated in their meetings and urged them to at least consider and discuss the plans we submitted. This never happened. The committee remained mute, and simply worked with the comprehensive plan language that the planning staff provided to them.

We are not giving up. We believe it is time for a Plan B. If we hope to be successful, we now need to shift our focus to the seven-member South Portland City Council who will make the final decisions about the 2040 Plan. Their decision is likely to take place in the fall of 2024.


Our Plan B incorporates a core theme, “The Waterfront and the Climate Crisis,” with four goals that will drive our efforts:

1. By 2040, South Portland will take concrete steps to assure the resiliency of the waterfront. South Portland can become a model for the rest of country as to how to make its waterfront resilient and protect it from the effects of the climate crisis. This is the most urgent goal that must be addressed now.

2. By 2040, South Portland will be transformed from the current petroleum-based energy port to a carbon-free energy port for storing and transporting carbon-free energy to the rest of Maine. This will be done through the pending solar and offshore wind initiatives that have become state priorities.

3. By 2040, South Portland will have invested in becoming a waterfront for public access and inter- harbor transportation systems. (e.g. walking, biking and small-scale ferry service). This will occur in the non-industrial part of the waterfront.

4. By 2040, the 120 oil tanks that are currently spread throughout South Portland will be consolidated within the industrial area of the waterfront. The oil tanks that are now in residential and park areas, such as Bug Light and South Portland High School, will be removed or relocated to the industrial waterfront.

The waterfront is South Portland’s greatest asset. In light of the impacts of the climate crisis that South Portland formally acknowledged in 2019, the waterfront is crying out for a bold vision and immediate action. The waterfront needs creative ideas and changes that are reflective of the values and aspirations of South Portland citizens and businesses.

Please come and help us imagine the possibilities for the future of our city. We need your voice. We need your ideas. We need your passion to be successful. The time for action is now. Think about what we can do for future generations. We cannot wait another 20 years before we begin.

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