A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The working parking waterfront

Kudos to reporter Tom Bell for bringing attention to the over-supply of cheap parking - on waterfront property, no less, in today's Portland Press Herald. Bell notes that "Until the middle of the last century, when Portland's waterfront was a hub of transportation and fishing activity, the piers were covered with buildings, including warehouses for grain, molasses, coal and wood."

This was the city's working waterfront heritage, which everyone wants to preserve and protect.

However, Bell goes on to observe that "Most of those buildings have been demolished over the years, and today more than three-fourths of the area that could be developed in the central waterfront zone has no buildings. Instead, there is plenty of parking."

It's got some choice quotes, including:

“We don’t have a working waterfront. We have a parking waterfront,” said Don Perkins of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
This is kind of a dangerous idea. Portland prides itself so much on its working waterfront - the handful of bait shacks, trawler berths, and chandleries that still remain on the city's piers. Speaking the truth - that 3/4 of the "working" waterfront is really just a big parking lot - really deflates this big source of the city's pride.

Even the hotel and convention business, which is traditionally been seen as a prime economic adversary of marine industrial uses on the city's piers, agree that the acres of empty lots are a blight on the waterfront:

More public transit is the key to eliminating parking lots on the waterfront, said Barbara Whitten, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Portland. "A sea of cars," she said, "is not an attractive way to market the waterfront."

Read the full article here.

1 comment:

Kevin Donoghue said...

Good issue, albeit with an incorrect paraphrase on my thoughts on the parking requirements - good stuff.