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  • Bayside Bowl: Maine's best bowling center just got better with new expansion

    New development features new lanes, new bars, new amenities

    On March 16, 2017, Bayside Bowl officially cut the ribbon on its new expansion.

    “This is a great day for Bayside Bowl, our staff, and our customers,” said Charlie Mitchell, managing partner. “We’ve had tremendous partners in the city, the neighborhood, and in the bowling community. There’s no place in the world I’d rather do business than in Bayside and in Portland.”

    The expansion contains 8-new bowling lanes, a mezzanine overlooking the lanes, an old school arcade and a one-of-a-kind rooftop bar and taco truck. In addition to the new amenities, Bayside Bowl now has a 422-panel roof-mounted solar electric system that will offset an estimated 34 percent of its current annual electric consumption.

    The expansion took ten months to complete, and over that time, more than 350 Mainers from 76 different Maine companies worked on the project. The increased capacity will also allow Bayside Bowl to grow its staff from 28 employees to 38 employees over the coming year.

    “Seven years ago, we had a vision for building the best bowling center in Maine,” said Justin Alfond, co-owner. “With this expansion, we now have three additional bars, an amazing rooftop deck, and stand among the best bowling venues in the country. We are setting a high bar for bowling and for our community.”

    Justin Alfond and Charlie Mitchell - proud co-owners of Bayside Bowl. It's become more than a bowling alley - it's a community center for fun and relaxation for Portland's Bayside.

    Bayside Bowl opened its doors in 2010 as Maine’s premier bowling entertainment center. Since then it has become a community center and the focal point in Bayside to have fun.

    Bayside Bowl is now home to twenty lanes, four full bars, an award-winning kitchen, old school arcade, live music, rooftop bar with taco truck, and Maine’s best bowling league, Bowl Portland.

    In April, Bayside Bowl will host the L.L.Bean PBA League Elias Cup and the MaineQuarterly.com Roth/Holman Doubles Tournament. The entire event will take place from April 9th to April 16th.

    The MaineQuarterly.com Roth/Holman Doubles Championship will start on Monday, April 10th with 32 teams and will culminate with a live ESPN show on April 16, 2017 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

  • Maine's Women’s Walk in Portland and Augusta in Solidarity with March on Washington, D.C.

    In solidarity with marches on Washington, D.C., Augusta, ME, and all over the U.S. Women's Walk Portland is set for Saturday, January 21. The walk starts at 10:30a.m. at the top of Congress Street on the Eastern Prom. This peaceful walk proceeds down Congress Street to Congress Square Park, ending between 12:00 and 1:00p.m.

    The Augusta event will start at 10 AM  and run until 12 PM at 111 Sewall Street, the state capitol. From their facebook page, "We will rally together at the Maine State Capitol to have our voices heard. This is not going to be a march from point A to point B, it is going to be a march in place at the Burton M. Cross building. This is a rally in support of women's rights, civil liberties and protection of the planet. This is an INCLUSIVE march, and EVERYONE who supports women's rights is welcome."

    In addition to the connection to the D.C. event, the Portland Walk aims to demonstrate support for women's, civic, and human rights.

    Organizers are currently reaching out to residents of Greater Portland and beyond to foster diverse representation at the walk, including immigrant groups, students, men, women, and children.

    Anyone wishing to participate, especially those not able to travel to marches farther away, are encouraged to attend.

    "After a very contentious election I thought about our collective responsibility to create the kind of community we want to live in - one that supports those working for equality, freedom and justice for all Mainers. Organizing this walk in solidarity with the marches in DC and elsewhere is a start. One where we can introduce participants to one another and to opportunities where they can make a difference going forward," said Kathryn Yatesthe organizer. 

    During and after the walk, participants will have a chance to connect with agencies and organizations providing support to women and families of Maine.

    Opportunities to stay connected and to help local groups will also be provided via email for those who wish it.

    For more information or to sign up, visit the Walk’s Facebook events page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1778266389086894/

    As of1/9/17, over 800 people have expressed interest and 174 are committed to attend, with those numbers growing every day.

    A national “Sister Marches” page, https://actionnetwork.org/events/womens-walk-portland, is also documenting attendance of participants in Maine and across the US.

    A permit for the walk was issued on December 30, 2016, by the city of Portland (above photo). No snow date has been set. The walk will take place in any weather. 

    Cities across the country are issuing permits for other solidarity Marches. Chicago, President Barack Obama's home town, plans one of the biggest.

    “We’re planning and hoping for the largest women’s Rally and March outside of Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 21, 2017,” said Ann Scholhamer, one of the March Chicago Co-Chairs. “We have been hard at work with our dedicated volunteers to confirm an incredible slate of speakers, representing issues brought to light during the campaign and diverse issues of concern to Chicago women.”

    For more information on the walk in Augusta, Maine please click on the image below, which will take you to their facebook page.

  • It’s time for Portland to assume a leadership role on solar energy

    Our officials should forge ahead on a solar plan, starting with the Ocean Avenue landfill project.

    Climate change is the greatest threat to the survival of not just the human species, but all species. It represents the principal challenge facing humanity in our day. No cause is more pressing, Pope Francis said in his 2015 encyclical on the environment and human ecology.

    Burning fossil fuels generates carbon dioxide. Carbon in the atmosphere forms something like a “blanket” over the Earth that traps the sun’s heat rather than allowing it to radiate back out. This build-up has caused the average temperature of the Earth’s surface to rise almost 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) since the late 1800s.

    Fifteen of the last 16 hottest years have happened since 2001, and scientists overwhelmingly agree that increasingly wild weather around the world is related to the global temperature rise. That’s climate disruption.

    So much fossil fuel has already been burned that it’s going to take determination and commitment internationally, nationally and locally to avoid shooting past the dangerous 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) warming mark. That’s the commonly recognized boundary for keeping the climate compatible with human life as we know it. This means essentially stopping global CO2 emissions by 2060. That may seem like a long time in the future, but it’s within the lifetime of people under 40.

    Cities are leading the transition to 100 percent clean energy in the United States. Twelve U.S. cities and counting, including San Francisco and San Diego, have already adopted ambitious 100 percent clean energy goals, and four cities in the U.S. – Aspen, Colorado; Burlington, Vermont; Greensburg, Kansas; and Kodiak Island, Alaska – have already hit their targets. These cities now generate 100 percent of the energy used community-wide from non-polluting and renewable sources.

    It’s time for Portland to assume a leadership role in solar energy deployment in Maine. Solar is the best non-carbon source for urban areas: The sun’s energy is constant and plentiful. And the faster we deploy solar power, the more costs will fall, making needed changes more affordable. Mayor Ethan Strimling has said he wants to have 25 percent of Portland’s homes and businesses using solar energy within 10 years.

    At the Paris climate summit, diplomats from 195 countries agreed to set a goal of preventing that 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) rise. Germany is already a model of national solar energy deployment despite getting less sunlight than does Maine.

    In the U.S., political power struggles at the federal and state levels have prevented comprehensive, affordable solar strategies from becoming the norm. Maine, for instance, has a present solar penetration of 1 percent of peak load. This needs to be closer to 10 percent if we intend to meet the U.S. emissions reduction targets.

    Completing the proposed solar installation on the Ocean Avenue Landfil to supply energy for city buildings and operations would be an excellent way to demonstrate leadership. The project, planned for this year yet put in doubt by the solar bill’s defeat, would make an otherwise unusable area vital and productive.

    Installing a solar array at the Ocean Avenue landfill will send a message that’s consistent with Portland’s reputation as a forward-thinking city. Yes, the Maine Legislature's faliure to override the governor's solar bill veto has been a setback. And yes, there’s some uncertainty about how long it will take to pay ourselves back with energy savings.

    But leadership requires proceeding despite setbacks and uncertainties. No energy enterprise is entirely without risk, and the risks of renewable energy inaction are far higher than the risks of forging ahead with determination and hope.

    The project also makes long-term economic sense. Today’s solar arrays last at least 25 years. The reduction in energy costs will allow Portland to recoup its investment and ultimately to save millions of tax dollars.

    We can’t mitigate extreme climate disruption and create a sustainable energy future without a plan. Portland shouldn’t let politics or lack of planning at higher levels stymie our doing the right thing. By moving now, Portland can show the way for others. We call on our elected and appointed officials to forge ahead on a solar plan, starting with the Ocean Avenue landfill project. The Portland Climate Action Team stands ready to assist.

  • The Portland Recovery Community Center needs you

    The City of Portland’s Overdose Prevention Project, Portland Police Department, and Young People in Recovery are pleased to announce their collaboration to assist the Portland Recovery Community Center in providing services to individuals who are in/or seeking recovery.

    They are looking for individuals with an LCSW, LADC or any other independent license to provide no cost counseling to individuals seeking recovery services.

    The Portland Recovery Community Center is offering a safe, confidential place for individuals to seek treatment without a fee. The Portland Recovery Community Center, which opened its doors in January 2012, provides a safe, supported community recovery setting for approximately 3,400 individuals each month. For more information about the Portland Recovery Community Center or to view their calendar, please visit their website at www.portlandrecovery.org.

    For more information about Young People in Recovery, please visit their website at http://youngpeopleinrecovery.org/. 

    There is no greater time to help our community members in need than now. If you would like to be a part of this grass roots effort, please contact Steve Cotreau at the Portland Recovery Community Center at (207) 553-2575 or scotreau@masap.org or Bridget Rauscher at (207) 874-8798 or bridget.rauscher@portlandmaine.gov.

    The Mayor's Substance Abuse Disorder Subcommittee (note the new name) has also begun meeting regularly again, and will meet on the third Thursday of the even months. The next meeting is April 21. Time and location to be announced. 

  • Portland awards four businesses on Congress Street with Facade Improvement Funds

    Three storefronts and a marquis on Congress Street will be looking their best next Spring/Summer with recent grant awards from the City’s Façade Improvement Program.

    The storefronts include 578 Congress, the home of Strange Maine; 612 Congress, the former Anna’s Used Furniture; 785 Congress which was previously a variety store; and the State Theatre marquis. All the projects will further enhance the streetscape of the Art’s District, helping to attract more culture and entertainment seekers and shoppers, as well as businesses looking to locate in a vibrant downtown environment. 

    All will help Portland's creative economy continue to grow.

    ”The Façade Program produces such tangible results,” said Greg Mitchell, Portland’s Economic Developer Director. “This is an effective program to stimulate private sector investment, and we're really thrilled that we were able to award the remaining funds. Thanks to the many property and business owners who have partnered with the City to rehab their storefronts, the experience of Congress Street continues to get better and better.” 

    The Facade Improvement Program is funded with federal community block grant dollars.
     
    Almost $24,000 in grant funds remained unused from the last round of the Façade Program, which had targeted Congress Street, from Washington Avenue to Weymouth Street. As a result, the City’s Economic Development Department invited business and property owners on Congress Street to submit applications for these remaining funds to be used for improvements to their storefronts, signs and awnings. Eight applications were received and the four that would have the greatest impact on the streetscape were chosen. 

    The Façade Program requires a private match that is at least equal to the grant amount. It is anticipated that these projects, receiving a total of almost $24,000 in grants, will generate close to $55,000 in private investment on Congress Street, more than twice the public dollars provided. 

  • Portland, Maine's, snow shoveling program for those 65 and older

    After coordinating the service for ten years, 80-year-old Munjoy Hill resident, Joan Sheedy, passed the torch to keep the snow shoveling program for elderly residents in operation. This winter, the City of Portland's Office of Elder Affairs, with help from volunteer coordinators in several Portland neighborhoods, will match Portland residents who are aged 65+ or have physical disabilities that make snow shoveling difficult with volunteer groups and individuals willing to shovel.

    Volunteers are asked to shovel the steps and a path from the front door to the sidewalk as well as the stretch of sidewalk in front of the property. They are not asked to shovel the entire driveway or clear snow from roofs. The idea is to create a path which allows the senior citizen, emergency responders, Meals on Wheels delivery people, mail carriers and other visitors to get in and out of the house safely.

    Once a volunteer receives an “assignment”, they will shovel for the same resident(s) after each storm throughout the winter.

    To request snow shoveling assistance or to volunteer, please contact one of the following individuals, depending on your location:

    Deering -         Leah Koch      207-239-7051 

    East End -       Molly McCarthy   857-204-6856

    West End -      Wells Lyons      207-274-1221

    Back Cove -    Carol Colton     207-899-3092 or 508-728-1296

    Other neighborhoods (and FMI) Linda Weare, Office of Elder Affairs, City of Portland 207-541-6620

  • Over 400 of Portland’s middle school students stand with Paris Climate Change Conference for action now

    Students from King Middle School at Portland City Hall on December 4, 2015, making a stand to encourage people to take action personally against climate change. Photo by Portland Citycouncilor Jon Hinck.

    By Ramona du Houx

    Cars honked and people waved support for over 400 students from King Middle School, city officials, members of 350.org, and concerned citizens when they marched to Portland City Hall on December 4, 2015. There they held a rally to promote climate change awareness and urge people to make changes to reduce waste, pollution and carbon emissions.

    “Climate Change is not a debate—it’s happening now,” said an impassioned student driving the reality home that this generation will experience the effects of the world’s climate changing in devastating ways if we don’t take action now.

    The students have been studying climate change issues, and the march/rally was part of their assignment.

    “The kids have it right on climate. The rest of us should follow their lead and get on the job of making our energy system clean and renewable,” said City Councilor Jon Hinck.

    Speakers called for immediate action and told the audience they can start recycling, composting, walking or biking instead of driving, and switching out traditional light bulbs to low-energy alternatives. The students point: everyone can make a difference if we all act.

     “We are not here to celebrate, but to motivate,” said eighth-grader Siri Pierce at City Hall. “We know this will be a more serious problem in the future, so why not start fighting now?”

    The march coincided with the United Nations climate talks in Paris, which hopefully will culminate with a legal global treaty amongst the 191 countries taking part in the talks.

    The last time a global climate treaty was signed was in 1997 with the Kyoto Protocol. But that agreement only required wealthy countries to reduce carbon emissions.  This time developing and emerging nations are poised to sign on, making this agreement truly global.

    Many nations have come to understand climate change technologies can help grow economies. Alternative energy is among the industries in Maine that show the most potential for job growth, according to a state report commissioned by the Maine Technology Institute in 2013 to identify fast-growing, technology-intensive industries that could yield significant economic growth.

    Businesses that work in alternative energy are a part of the state’s fastest-growing sectors, according to the report. The sector experienced job gains in Maine of 11.9 percent, from 2007 to 2012, and is predicted to grow by 4.7 percent through 2022, beating a forecasted U.S. growth rate of 2.3 percent.

    “I am very motivated — and you are my motivation,” Mayor Michael Brennan told the students as he gave them a key to the city.

     Portland is currently adding solar panels to city buildings. The effort is part of the city’s climate action plans that are being currently implemented across all aspects of its operations from transportation and land use planning, to vehicle policies and fuel usage.

     

     

  • Portland, ME, launches landlord registration process

    Photo of Portland, Maine in the sumertime by Ramona du Houx

    Rental housing registration form now available, due by January 1

    Following the creation of the Housing Safety Office, Portland, Maine, is now ready to launch the rental housing registration process, which requires landlords to register their rental properties and pay a $35 fee per unit by January 1, 2016.

    The form can be found at www.portlandmaine.gov/housingsafety and the fee can be paid online.

    "The rental housing registration will allow us to gather much needed data on our rental housing stock in Portland,” said Jon Jennings, City Manager. “This data will be used to help build a database for our inspectors, and be available as a resource for the public. We urge landlords to submit their registration forms as quickly as possible so we can begin building the database and performing inspections in the new year.”

    Landlords can reduce the registration fee through the use of the following approved discounts:

    • $10 for a fully-sprinkled building (verification: testing/maintenance report and/or maintenance contract)
    • $7.50 for a centrally-monitored fire alarm (verification: Fire Department logs and/or alarm contract)
    • $5 for a HUD HQS inspection (verification: inspection report within last year)
    • $10 for a HUD UPCS inspection (verification: inspection report within last year)
    • $2.50 for a smoke-free policy (verification: copy of lease and spot checks)

    The fee cannot drop below $15 per unit.

    The City Council approved the creation of the Housing Safety Office on June 25, 2015 following recommendations presented to them by the Fire/Code Inspections Task Force. In addition to the new Administrator and inspectors who will be cross-trained in code enforcement and fire safety, the Housing Safety Office is charged with implementing a risk-based prioritization process for inspections; conducting inspections; and overseeing and enforcing the revised landlord registration ordinance.  

  • Lawmakers tour five production, education, and shipping facilities during Portland Waterfront jobs tour

    Maine lawmakers Rep. Jorgensen, Rep. Moonen, Rep. Russell, Sen. Alfond, Speaker Eves, Rep. Chipman, Rep. Farnsworth, with Bert Jongerden of the Fish Exchange, Bill Needelman Portland's Waterfront Coordinator and Ray Swenton of Bristol Seafood toured the Portland Fish Exchange with Ray Swenton of Bristol Seafood. Courtesy photo.

    By Ramona du Houx

    Maine State House Speaker Mark Eves joined Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond and Rep. Matthew Moonen and Rep. Diane Russell in their districts with other Portland lawmakers and city officials to tour businesses and facilities along the city waterfront. The visit was a continuation of a statewide jobs tour launched in January by Eves.

    Most of these state Representatives were present during Governor John Baldacci's tenure when voter bonds were used to help build up the waterfront, dredging and establishing a pier. The grants helped the city promote the deep city port, which has attracted Eimskip from Iceland as well as more cruse ships.

    “Maine’s marine economy is vital to the strength of our state,” said Eves. “It was great to witness the deep commitment shared by employees, industry experts and business and community leaders to innovation and the creation of enduring partnerships between public and private sectors that will make Maine second to none."

    Representatives Erik Jorgensen, Ben Chipman and Richard Farnsworth were also present for the tours of Bristol Seafood, Portland Fish Exchange, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the Ready Seafood Company, and Eimskip’s facility at the International Marine Terminal.

    “Meeting with the people who have helped make Portland the economic and cultural juggernaut it is today was a thrill and a privilege,” said Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond of Portland. “We should all look to the experience of entrepreneurs, business owners and workers who have created a thriving economy in Portland, and replicate their success elsewhere in our state.”

    Lawmakers, Maine House Speaker Eves, Sen. Alfond, Rep. Russell and Rep. Moonen, visit Bristol Seafood in Portland, Maine, on a jobs tour. Courtesy photo.

    Legislators began the tour at Bristol Seafood and Portland Fish Exchange. The Portland Fish Exchange, opened in 1986, is America’s first all-display fresh seafood auction. Over 20 million pounds of seafood are bought and sold each year at the Exchange.

    "The Portland waterfront is a critical component of the Maine employment picture. Fisheries, transportation, tourism, and industry supply goods, services, and jobs for the region. These jobs rely on access to the water and investment in aging infrastructure to continue and to grow," said Bill Needelman, Waterfront Coordinator for the city of Portland. "The City is pleased to work with the legislature and all branches of state government to strengthen marine employment on Portland's waterfront."

    Lawmakers also toured the Cohen Center for Interactive Learning at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. GMI recently was awarded it's largest grant of $6.5 million NASA to support climate change education. During the Baldacci administration GMI regularly would receive grants from Maine from bonds, which has helped GMI grow its diverse programs.

    “The Cohen Center for Interactive Learning is a great example of how education can help children and families understand Maine’s marine economy and why it’s so important,” said Representative Moonen. “It was great to see such comprehensive research made accessible and family friendly. Understanding is the first step towards action.”

    Ready Seafood Company, stop four on the tour, is a family owned and Maine grown business that employs over 50 and sources millions of pounds of live lobster ranging from the Gulf of Maine to the Canadian Maritimes.

    "We saw countless examples of ingenuity and dedication to quality that help raise the standards for not only Maine but New England as well," said Rep. Russell. "We remain committed to supporting Portland's thriving waterfront industries and the people and families who rely on them."

    Lawmakers closed out the tour at Eimskip’s facilities at the International Marine Terminal. Eimskip is Iceland’s oldest shipping company, and has offices in 19 countries worldwide.

  • Labor organizations oppose Portland’s Question 2

    Cape Elizabeth lighthouse, Portland Maine, photo by Ramona du Houx 

    The Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council announced its opposition to Portland’s Question 2, joining a growing coalition that includes the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Portland Community Chamber, AARP Maine, Homeless Voices for Justice, GrowSmart Maine, Avesta Housing and members of Portland’s fast-growing entrepreneurial business community.

    “Portland is a great city, but we have to make sure that it continues to be a place where working families can find jobs and afford to live,” said President John Napolitano, who grew up on Munjoy Hill. “Portland’s Question 2 will hurt the entire city, making it harder for people to live and work here and creating unreasonable new hurdles for good projects. Our 4,000 workers around Maine are ready to get involved, knock on doors and spread the word that Portland’s Question 2 is bad for middle-class families and working men and women.”

    The Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council (MSBCTC) was chartered on Jan. 21, 1964, and represents 13 Trade Unions and more than 4,000 workers throughout Maine. MSBCTC is affiliated with Building & Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

    “Portland is taking off as a place where entrepreneurs and startups can be successful, but backwards looking ordinances like Portland’s Question 2 threaten that,” said Jess Knox, co-chair of the No on 2 campaign. “Our city needs to be open to new ideas and thoughtful development. Portland’s Question 2 goes too far and hurts existing businesses and the people who are trying to start new ones.”

    Question 2 would amend the city’s land use ordinances and make it possible for one “affected” property owner or as few as 20 petition signers to block or delay good building projects in the city. In addition, it creates new and unnecessary bureaucracy. 

    “Working men and women should oppose Portland’s Question 2,” Napolitano said. “This ordinance will slow down the economy and cost the city jobs.”

    Affiliated members of the Trade Council include:

    • International Brotherhood of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, Local 6
    • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers, Local 29
    • International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craft Workers, Local 3
    • International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornament, and Reinforcing Iron Workers, Local 496
    • Laborers International Union of North America, Locals 327
    • International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 4
    • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 35
    • United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, Local 716
    • United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers, Local 33
    • Sheet Metal Workers' International Association, Local 17
    • Road Sprinkler Fitters, Local 669
    • International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 340
    • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 567 & 1253

    In addition, Iron Workers Local 7 also opposes Portland’s Question 2.

  • AARP Maine, Avesta and Homeless Voices for Justice oppose Portland’s Question 2

     AARP Maine, Avesta Housing and Homeless Voices for Justice announced their opposition to Portland’s Question 2 during a press conference at an affordable housing project under construction on Munjoy Hill.

    “At a time when AARP Maine is working with Portland to ensure the city is a community for all ages to live, work and play, this proposal is very restrictive and would greatly impact housing options for older and middle-income Portlanders,” said Lori Parham, AARP Maine State Director. “As currently written, the referendum is also confusing and unclear to voters. AARP Maine urges Portland voters to Vote No on Portland Question 2.”

    AARP Maine is a nonprofit social mission organization working on behalf of 230,000 people 50 and older statewide.

    Avesta Housing is one of the largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing in New England and is consistently recognized nationally for groundbreaking work bringing together nonprofit, for-profit, private and public-sector organizations for the benefit of Maine communities. 

    “Last year more than 3,000 households sought an affordable home from Avesta, but we were only able to help about 300 because resources are so scarce,” said Dana Totman, President of Avesta Housing. “Now, in 2015, requests for our housing are up by another 25 percent overall and more than 45 percent among senior households. In the face of much needed affordable housing, our concern is that at least six of the affordable properties we have built in Portland in recent years, now housing more than 200 seniors and families, may never have happened if this proposed view referendum was in place. An additional hurdle to creating much needed affordable housing is a risk that people in need of affordable housing can’t afford.”

    Homeless Voices for Justice also announced its opposition to Question 2. The organization is led and organized by people who have struggled with homelessness and seeks to empower disenfranchised people.

    “There are nearly 500 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in Portland – evidence of the housing crisis we face in this city,” said William Higgins, Advocate, Homeless Voices for Justice. “Any policy that has the potential to block affordable housing development poses a great risk to our most vulnerable community members. We simply can't afford to take that risk."

    “Portland’s Question 2 is poorly written and overly broad. It goes too far and will hurt every neighbor in our city, making it harder for people to afford to live, work and build their businesses here,” said Lisa Whited, co-chair of the No on Portland’s Question 2 campaign. “Our coalition continues to grow as more people realize that Portland’s Question 2 will hold our city back.”

    Other organizations that have announced opposition to Portland’s Question 2 include GrowSmart Maine, the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Real Estate and Development Association, The Greater Portland Board of REALTORS®, Maine Commercial Association of REALTORS®, the Portland Society for Architecture and growing list of small businesses.

     

    In addition to the endorsement, AARP Maine and Avesta reminded voters that there will be two Question 2s on the ballot in Portland. The statewide Question 2 is a bond to support senior housing, which is supported by AARP Maine, Avesta Housing and Portland’s Future, the political action committee leading the No on 2 campaign in Portland. Portland Question 2 is the land use ordinance, which the groups oppose based upon its impacts on senior and affordable housing.

  • "Five Nights in Maine" - with David Oyelowo to premiere at Toronto International Film Festival


    Movie-Maker Magazine recently select Portland, Maine, as one of the 
    "Top Five Towns - Best Places to Live and Work as a movie maker 2015."
     "Five Nights in Maine," a Maine in Maine film, will hold its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.  Described as "an intimate feature film about love, loss, and compassion", "Five Nights in Maine" was written and directed by Maris Curran, and filmed in Phippsburg, Brunswick, and South Portland during October 2014.
    The film, which stars David Oyelowo ("Selma" and "The Butler"), tells the story of a young African-American man, reeling from the tragic loss of his wife, who travels to rural Maine at the invitation of his estranged mother-in-law who is herself confronting guilt and grief over her daughter's death.
     
    The film also stars two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest ("Bullets Over Broadway"), Oscar-nominated actress Rosie Perez ("Fearless"), and co-stars Teyonah Parris ("Mad Men") and Hani Furstenberg ("The Loneliest Planet").
     
    "The director grew up visiting Pemaquid. She grew up in Philly and was always struck by the contrasting environments and continues to feel a draw to the natural beauty of Maine," said Carly Hugo, one of the producers of the film, along with Matt Parker, Curran and Oyelowo. "I have family from Portland, so I knew the region well, and it's one of the things that originally attracted me to the project. Maine is breathtakingly beautiful, and it's not a landscape that you often see on film."
     
    The selection of FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE by the Toronto Film Festival is good news for film-making in Maine, and will help to showcase the advantages offered by the state's beauty and relatively affordable production costs put in place by the Baldacci administration, and active and welcoming film community. Maine offers tax incentives of up to 17 percent, with a $75,000 minimum spend.
     
    "We were committed to filming in Maine and using Maine crew members as much as possible," said Hugo. "We weren't sure initially if we would be able to find the talent pool we needed, but we discovered there is an amazing professional community in Maine, as good as any we could have brought with us. And the local community embraced us and was so supportive. It was amazing. We put the whole crew up in summer rentals, and everyone bonded over big lobster dinners."
     
  • Maine's Portland International Jetport to get $917,000 FAA grant for future growth

    The Portland International Jetport is getting a $917,000 FAA grant to plan for future growth.

    According to General Manager Paul Bradbury, this will be the Jetport’s first master plan that includes sustainable principles like protecting the environment.

    "The terminal expansion at the Jetport was very successful from an energy efficiency point of view," Bradbury said.  "But this new master plan will help us make sustainability a long-term policy throughout the entire Jetport."

    "The Jetport is a great regional asset and is an important piece of our local economy.  We expect a record number of passengers to use the airport in the next year or two, so it’s important and necessary to plan carefully for future growth," said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.  "This investment from the FAA will help the Jetport plan for the future in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable."

    Every ten years, airports create a master plan to project needs up to 20 years in the future.  

    Last year about 1.7 million passengers used the Portland Jetport, and traffic is expected to set a new all-time record this year or next.

  • Pingree announces $2.5 million grant for Portland Jetport

    Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced today that the Portland Jetport would receive a grant for $2,532,600 from the Federal Aviation Administration to rehabilitate its general aviation apron. 
     
    “Portland Jetport is a critical transportation gateway for our state, serving everything from major airlines to hundreds of small private aircraft,” said Pingree.  “I’m glad the airport will receive this federal investment to keep its infrastructure in good working order.”   
     
    The project will rehabilitate 56,750 square yards of pavement that has reached the end of its useful life. 
  • Report on economic impact of Fore Street Development but what of the soul of the city?

     

    The Ocean Gateway terminal built with state and federal grants as well as investments has improved Portland's economy with new ships being able to dock, as well as the facility hosting events. The Fore street project report says it will help the city's quality of life, while some residents don't want the project to block their views, which would damage their quality of life. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    By Ramona du Houx

    Portland-based Planning Decisions, Inc. (PDI) released a study today that indicates the redevelopment of 58 Fore Street, the former Portland Company complex, could add $76 million to Portland’s tax base, create hundreds of jobs during and after construction. The project would create housing for nearly 400 people.

    CPB2 owns the 58 Fore Street property and following any successful rezoning, plans to develop it into a mixed-use site that aligns with the community vision set forth in the city’s Eastern Waterfront Master Plan. PDI based its evaluation on a development model comparing a similar size land area in Portland’s Old Port that contains a mix of retail, residential, hotel, restaurant, and office uses, to the 58 Fore Street property.

    The developer’s proposal for the historic Portland Co. site has met some opposition from citizens concerned that the new development would block waterfront views and place restrictions on waterfront access. A group, called the Soul of Portland, said it's also worried that the project would encroach on nearby neighborhoods.

    The view of Casco Bay from "The Hill" is unique, said Anne Rand resident and member of The Soul of Portland. "We're at the foot of St. Lawrence Street, where it comes into Fore Street. When you look out you can see the islands, you can the harbor, ferries, cruise ships - it's a beautiful, beautiful view," said Rand in a Maine Public Broadcasting interview.

    Rand says the group's not against development, but has major concerns about the specific plans CPB2 has in mind, since no detailed plans have been submitted. The Soul of Portland says it's premature to grant rezoning permission before specific plans are in hand.

    Rand - a former Democratic state senator - said to grant the rezoning now would be to give the developers a "blank check."

    "I've heard a massive private marina, I've heard a lot of different things," said Rand to MPBN. "But the truth of the matter is they have submitted nothing. We have no idea."

    The Soul of Portland wants to ensure the city remains a creative, economically vibrant, livable home for Mainers. There has been a recent push in Portland, and other Maine cities doing well with their downtown revitalization plans growing their creative economies, towards gentrification. Many citizens worry they won't be able to live in the city they have called home because the cost of living will increase beyond their means. 

    In Portland artists have already been pushed out of areas because rents continue to skyrocket. Last January The Constellation Gallery on 510 Congress Street was forced to close because the landlord favored a tenant who could pay more rent. The Gallery had been home to the Maine Artist Collective, which is a non-profit with an educational mission.

    Over the winter the Portland Press Herald reported that rents in the city are too high for the majority of its working middle class citizens to meet without economic hardship.

    For any responsible study it is paramount to think of the impacts on the community as a whole. This report says that after the development is completed other investments are most likely to follow “improving the quality of life” for Portland residents. The Soul of Portland wants to make sure the soul of Portland survives.

    The potential economic impact for Portland, according to the PDI report concludes:

     

    • $85 million in assessed property value for 58 Fore Street, a $76 million increase over the property’s current assessed value.
    • $1.5 Million in additional property tax revenue to the City annually
    • Housing for 387 people.
    • Over $215 million in construction-related direct and indirect spending would create roughly 1,400 jobs and $68 million in wages.
    • Annual operating sales of over $38 million for Maine businesses, supporting the full-time equivalent of 325 jobs and over $16.5 million in wages
    • $6.7 million in additional tax and fee revenue to municipalities in Greater Portland and $6.9 million in additional tax and fee revenue to the State of Maine.

    The full report is available online at http://www.cpb2.com/resources.php

    On April 6th the Portland City Council announced that it is postponing tonight's agenda item regarding 58 Fore Street, the Portland Company project, until June 1, 2015.

  • EPA awards Portland $200,000 for East Bayside area which will help creative economy

    Portland, Maine, City Hall. East Bayside is just across the Franklin Artilary- within a ten minute walking distance of City Hall.The EPA grant will connect downtown Portland more with East Bayside. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    By Ramona du Houx

    The Greater Portland Council of Governments has been selected as one of 20 recipients in the nation for a $200,000 Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    “The selected grantees have demonstrated a strong vision and partnership to catalyze brownfield redevelopment as a pathway to transform their communities into vibrant destinations for housing, manufacturing, and transit-oriented development,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

     AWP funds will be used to develop an area-wide plan for the East Bayside neighborhood in Portland. The planning process will take place over a two-year period beginning in May of 2015. 

    “We’re very excited to have been chosen for this funding, which will allow us to put in place a community vision for the future of the East Bayside neighborhood,” said Mayor Michael Brennan. “Building upon the many successful light industrial uses, the plan will explore how to best develop these brownfields sites and the rest of East Bayside in order to enhance a thriving mixed-use district.”

    For over a century, East Bayside functioned as an industrial district served first by ship, then railroad, and now truck. While it remains one of the poorest Census Tracts in the state, this industrial legacy has recently attracted a vibrant culture of new Mainers, artists, and food entrepreneurs who will be critical in creating a lasting vision and plan for the neighborhood. In short, East Bayside has grown its creative economy from the grass roots up and is now ready for the next stage of redevelopment.

    "Given that much of East Bayside was built on contaminated fill, almost any redevelopment will trigger environmental due diligence that can be supported through the Brownfields program,” said Neal Allen, Executive Director of the Greater Portland Council of Governments. “We are pleased to collaborate with the City of Portland and the neighborhood to facilitate re-uses that increase economic opportunity and strengthen the community and neighborhood, including housing, arts, culture, and food enterprise.”

    The grant will fund a range of planning activities, including the following:

    • Inventory of neighborhood Brownfields sites
    • Interviews and roundtables with residents, property owners, business and community leaders
    • Neighborhood open house
    • Charrettes at three neighborhood locations
    • Public forums to prioritize results
    • Action teams to develop recommendations

    The planning process will leverage over $45 million in public and private investment already planned for East Bayside over the next two years, including housing, infrastructure, and capital projects.

     Eleven businesses, organizations, and agencies have already signed on to participate in the project: 

    • East Bayside Neighborhood Organization,
    • Portland Housing Authority,
    • Avesta Housing, Redfern Properties,
    • Coffee by Design,
    • Urban Farm Fermentory,
    • Running with Scissors,
    • Root Cellar,
    • East Bayside Studios,
    • Ten Ten Pie,
    • Sustain Southern Maine

     

    The planning process will build on the work of several recent efforts, including the India Street Sustainable Neighborhood Plan, Franklin Street Redesign, USM’s East Bayside Neighborhood Planning Study in 2009, and the American Institute of Architect’s Sustainable Design Assessment Team in 2010.

    It also builds on Greater Portland’s designation as one of the nation’s 12 Manufacturing Communities under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) sponsored by the U.S. Economic Development Administration as well as the Livable Communities Partnership sponsored by Sustain Southern Maine under a 2010 Planning Grant from HUD-EPA-DOT Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC). The leadership of GPCOG and the City in implementing both of those efforts gave the AWP application a stronger proposal to compete in a crowded national field of applicants.

    Both the IMCP and the PSC seek to leverage and build upon the resources already in the communities and the AWP grants will complement these targeted efforts. Building on federal partnership efforts, DOT has committed to prioritizing communities who use the outcomes of the AWP process to inform subsequent transportation projects in the DOT’s TIGER grant selection process. Not only will this new grant award ensure a robust approach to brownfields reuse, it may also assist the community in securing additional resources to implement the plan.

     

  • Portland, Maine, supports federal carbon, ozone, and climate change interventions

    Portland, Maine cityscaape. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    By Ramona du Houx

    Maine’s Congressional delegation is bringing a message from almost 200,000 Maine people to Washington this week, following tonight’s unanimous Portland City Council vote on their “Healthy Air Resolution”.  Portland is the 7th Maine city to pass similar resolutions that call on Congress to protect and defend the Clean Air Act.  They join Bangor, Waterville, Augusta, Hallowell, Lewiston and South Portland – home to 198,066 Mainers altogether, according to 2010 U.S. Census data.

    Portland’s resolution specifically offers Portland’s support for “the federal Clean Power Plan, stronger federal ozone standards, and all national, state, and community efforts to address the root causes of climate change and ensure healthy air for Maine families and businesses."

    Portland’s resolution, was introduced by Mayor Michael Brennan, Councilor Dave Marshall, and Councilor Jon Hinck

    “Air pollution affects all of us,” said Dr. Marguerite Pennoyer, a physician specializing in allergy & immunology and a Maine Leadership Board Member for the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “It can lead to asthma attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancer, reproductive and developmental harm, and even premature death.  Everyone is affected, but it is particularly dangerous for children, seniors, and people with lung and heart conditions.”

    “I sponsored this resolution in order to send a strong message to our Maine delegation,” said Hinck.  “Maine people are paying the price for pollution created elsewhere.  We need Congress to level the playing field and support standards that are strong and fair.  When our kids miss opportunities to learn, when our workers are out sick, and when health costs go up for all of us, it’s slowing growth and job creation, and suppressing Maine’s great potential.”

    As Congress reconvenes following their February recess, they are expected to be grappling with dozens of contentious issues, including direct and indirect threats to the Clean Air Act andthe framework it provides for establishing science-based standards, monitoring air quality, and enforcing the rules intended to make the nation’s air healthier to breathe.

    “We are thrilled with Portland’s unanimous vote and the important message it sends to Senators Collins and King and Representative Pingree and Poliquin,” said Effie Craven, Healthy Air Coordinator for the American Lung Association.  “Maine is the nation’s tailpipe.  We have one of the highest asthma rates in the country and there is no question we are already feeling the health and economic impacts of climate change.  We need our representatives in Washington to do absolutely everything in their power to clean up the air, defend the Clean Air Act from industry polluters, and fight the root causes of climate change.”

    According to the American Lung Association’s 15th annual State of the Air report released in April, Bangor was ranked as one of the four cleanest cities for ozone in the country.  While Penobscot County received an “A” on the report card, Portland and its neighbors in southern Maine didn’t fare as well.  Cumberland County received a grade of “C” for ozone pollution while York and Hancock Counties both received a grade of “D”, indicating that each county had more days when ozone reached unhealthy levels. 

    “On poor air quality days, saying that it’s hard to breathe is an understatement,” said Acadia Calderwood, a 14-year-old with asthma.  “It’s like breathing through a straw on a humid day.  Having an asthma attack is one of the most frightening things I have ever experienced.  Asthma affects my life in so many ways.”

    Coal-fired power plants are the nation’s single largest source of carbon pollution.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed the Clean Power Plan to set first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants.  The EPA also recently proposed strengthening current ozone pollution limits from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to the range of 65-70 ppb – a level that their scientific advisors say would be more protective of human health.

    “This is about the health of our kids,” said Jeannette MacNeille from Topsham, who has asthma.  “To see a tiny baby struggling mightily to draw his next breath; to see an athletic long-distance runner on the ground with emergency personnel around her and an oxygen mask on her face; to find that a friend’s child has been spending time in the school nurse’s office with a nebulizer instead of in her classroom - these things sap our kids of their hope, their energy, their dreams, and their potential.  Our kids are our future, and it matters that we take the time and the trouble to clean up our air.”

    Portland’s resolution language says that “the city affirms and commits to supporting the proposed Clean Power Plan and stronger federal ozone standards, as well as fighting climate change and ensuring healthy air for all citizens”.  The proclamation includes a variety of statistics related to the dangers of air pollution as well as the success of the Clean Air Act in its four decades of protecting public health.

    “The timing of tonight’s resolution vote couldn’t be more important,” added Pennoyer. “We’ll be sending Maine’s Congressional delegation back to Washington with a message from 200,000 Maine people that says, stand up for us – we need to reduce carbon pollution, we need strong ozone standards, we need fair play across state lines, and we need to address the root causes of climate change to ensure healthy air for Maine families and businesses.”

     

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