Working Waterfront Supporters Hold Organizing Meeting in Portland; Island Institute & Urban Harbors Institute to Coordinate Future Educational Efforts

Jim Connors, Steering Committee Member & From the Maine Coastal Program

By Carol McCracken (Post # 599)

Portland was the popular choice to be the host city for a national symposium on preserving the working waterfront and access to it said organizers of the event at its conclusion yesterday afternoon. The four day event was held at the Holiday Inn which is just a few blocks from the Commercial Street working waterfront – a popular spot for walking tours held throughout the rain-splattered week.

In 2007, organizers held the first symposium in Norfolk, Va. Following that, steering committee members surveyed attendees to determine whether or not they wanted another meeting and where that would be located. Three years later this symposium was held here and covered a myriad of successful strategies to preserve working waterfronts and their access. The winning strategies came from North Carolina, Masssachusetts, Staten Island, NY and more. The 200 + attendees hailed from Hawaii to Alaska and to the Gulf Coast.

Dan Hellin, a presenter and research associate for the Urban Harbors Institute, Boston, said of the event: “This has been quite a focus group. All from different regions of the country and with similar concerns and interests. We are all trying to save the working waterfront and to learn how different people have dealt with it.”

Tom Becker, owner of T&D Charters out of Biloxi, MS. with his own set of issues, said he came away from the Symposium understanding how important it is for us to “work together, educate the public and get to our US Senators to get their support so they know what we need. This conference has helped me. We lost our working waterfront to casinos about 12 years ago. We were the seafood capital of the world. After Katrina, things changed.” tdchart@bellsouth.net!

Jim Connors, a steering committee member, from Maine Coastal Programs, said: “Portland is the epitome of what we are talking about at this Symposium. Maine has two initiatives that are national models for the rest of the country. They are the current use tax program and state bond funding – it purchases protective convenants over commercial fishing properties.” The two other members of the steering committee are: Thomas J. Murray, Associate Director for Advisory Services Leader, Virginia Sea Grant Marine Extension Program, Gloucester Point, VA. tjm@vims.edu The chair of the Symposium and steering committee member was Natalie Springuel, of Maine Sea Grant. She was also moderator for the Symposium.

“It’s unanimous that we need to have a national alliance to work on saving our working waterfronts and access to them,” Springuel said following a wrap-up sesson the last day. “There is a lot of structural work and educational work to be done before our next meeting. It’s important to note that this alliance will include recreational craft as well.”

For more information, please visit www.wateraccessus.com