West Enders See Plans for “New Yard” up Close and Personal at Portland Yacht Services; November Public Hearing Possible

Some of the West Enders Attending the “New Yard” Informational Meeting at Portland Yacht Services

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,218)

Possible noise and view obstructions were the concerns that about fifteen West End residents brought to a meeting last night at Portland Yacht Services.  The neighborhood meeting is required by the city’s planning office as part of its approval process. The meeting was held on the eastern end of Portland rather than on the western end so people could have an opportunity “to see what we do down here” said Phineas Sprague, Jr.  Sprague is owner of the ten acres at PYS and the owner of this major new development on the western end of Commercial Street.

Since filing its submission package with the city’s planning board on behalf of Phase 1  last month, the project has already undergone one prelminary workshop with the Planning Board.  The Board  was enthusiastic about the project. Last night Steve  Bushey, of Delucca-Hoffman,  announced that the project could go to the planning board for a public hearing in November. Sprague is looking for quick approval of the project so he can house a tall  ship – “Spirit of Massachusetts” at the New Yard.  She has been berthed at PYS while seeking  private funding to under go a major outfitting here.  She was built in 1984 as a working boat and not a “dude” boat. Furthermore, Spirit has a wooden hull;  very vulnerable to dry rot, a condition dreaded by sailors  Spirit is not permitted to leave Portland Harbor until she is refitted because she failed a Coast Guard inspection test recently.  Please visit www.oceanclassroom.org for more information.

Sprague acknowledged there will be some pile driving done at  New Yard which can be noisy.  There might be between 6 – 12 pilings around the travel lift basin which is the most complex part of the project.  It will be  about 40 ft. high which is under the city’s height limit of 45 ft. The three planned buildings for Phase I, consisting of six acres, will also be in compliance with the city’s height ordinance.  “I don’t want to get into THAT fight!” said Sprague grinning. “You just made our day,” said one West End resident joking. Many West End residents overlook the proposed boat yard.  Sand blasting will be necessary, but Sprague will try to be a good neighbor about it.  “Sand blasting is a problem,” said Susie Perry, a West Ender.

“I would like to solve Portland’s unemployment problem,” Sprague said laughing, in response to a question.  “I’d like to hire about 100 people for New Yard.  We have 35 employees here at PYS.  We’ll just have to wait and see.”

For more background information, please visit Post # 1,202, dated 8/23/12 herein.