Thursday, May 17, 2012

Portland Waterfront Discussion at Maine Historical Society

Nice discussion Tuesday night on Portland's waterfront. Mayor Brennan gave a good outline of the potential for the area; Ann Pringle discussed the history of the zoning and how we should allow for things like fishing to come back as railroads are coming back as well as trying to avoid the pretend waterfronts like Baltimore; Bill Needleman gave a good discussion of the urban fabric noting the piers used to be extensions of Portland streets (as noted in my article 'Portland's Piers Are Streets' ); and Steve DiMillo gave a great history of growing up working for his father's restaurant, how his dad developed Long Wharf on an burned coal storage site, and how the area was once filled with little shops, etc.

The city is aware of the potential to use form based code to promote the sort of pedestrian fabric we crave but are not in a position to move forward with this according to Mr. Needleman.

The pedestrian wharf edge walk from Commercial Street to DiMillo's restaurant is one of the city's gems and whatever we can do to promote this sort of place is in public and private interests. One key is having restaurants or other public places to go to on wharf that naturally has pier owners creating public paths down pier for access.

As an architect who has worked since 1992 on Portland's waterfront urban design issues and lives here and who was once a commercial fisherman working on a dragger similar to one's shown above, I am grateful for what we have. People come here for the site of working boats and fish markets and seafood.

Together, private and public we can find a way as Ms. Pringle noted, we have already created an environment for a partnership that other cities envy.

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