Portland Tugboat Tries to Sink ‘New Yard’ Proposal for Construction Permit on Western Waterfront at Board Meeeting

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,266)

Late this afternoon Steve Bushey, an engineering consultant,  appeared before the Portland Harbor Commission Board seeking a construction permit on behalf of New Yard, a newly formed entity  to provide services for commercial and large yachts on the western waterfront on Commercial Street.  The workshop was a continuation of last months meeting and another workshop  is planned for December.  A public hearing will follow sometime next year.

This past August, a submission package was filed at Portland’s Planning and Development Department by Phineas Sprague, Jr. owner of New Yard. Sprague has a contract to purchase about 14 acres just west of the Casco Bay Bridge for this expansion of services.  Part of the reason cited is that his current marina, Portland Yacht Services, does not have enough land for this expansion.  The sale of the property to Sprague is contingent upon New Yard receiving all the permitting required for the project to go forward.

The sometimes contentious Captain Brian J. Fournier, president of Portland Tugboat, spoke at length that he was opposed to this application because some of the floats and the dry dock would be in the way of the tug boats in the area.  “Floats and tugs don’t work together,” Fournier although the plans for New Yard have been changed to bring the equipment at issue closer to the shoreline.  “I’d run over a small boat before I’ll run a tug aground,” said Fournier defiantly. Portland Tugboat is owned by McAllister Towing & Transportation whose headquarters are located in New York City.

According to a series of emails circulated at the Board meeting, McAllister tried to buy the 14 acres of blighted land at the same time Sprague was negotiating for the land.  Apparently it was McAllister’s intention to tie up 5 of its tugs there rather than at the International Marine Terminal where they are currently docked.  Captain Fournier was familiar with the location and believed the Harbor Commission would approve.  Sprague later offered to berth the McAllister tugs at the New Yard location, but Fournier declined the offer, according to the emails.

Leonard W. Langer, Esq., of Thompson & Bowie, Portland said he was opposed to the Board permitting a construction permit for safety reasons.  He’s the attorney for the Portland Pilots Association.

Capt. Brian J. Fournier, Portland Tugboat, Opposed to New Yard on Western Commercial Street