McAllister Sharpens Attack on New Yard Construction, Despite Major Concession to Meet Board’s Criteria; Public Hearing 1/10 City Hall

Attorney Michael X. Savasuk Told the Harbor Commission: “We have met your criteria to be granted a construction permit.”

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,260)

“…..the Proposed Facility (New Yard) creates a dangerous situation for the tankers and assisting tugboats transiting the Fore River.  Due to the angle of the opening in the Casco Bay Bridge, tankers must move in close proximity to the Portland side of the channel, either in lining-up to move down river through the draw, or in correcting their course to port after passing through the draw as they proceed up-river.  In either instance, the ability to maneuver tankers….is certainly quite limited,” according to a December 18, 2012 letter to the Portland Harbor Commissioner from Jonathan Shapiro, Esq., of Fisher & Phillips.  Shapiro represents McAllister Towing & Transportation Co., parent company of Portland Tugboat.

Yesterday’s workshop before the Portland Harbor Commission Board was the second on the proposal by Phineas Sprague, Jr., owner of the plans for New Yard to locate on about 14 acres west of the Casco Bay Bridge on Commercial Street.  At the first  workshop on November 27th, Captain Brian J. Fournier, president of Portland Tugboat  spoke extensively that he was opposed to issuing New Yard a construction permit for this project to go foward.  Particular objection was raised to the use of a dry dock which would enable large ships to be worked on at the New Yard. Following the receipt of the December letter from Shapiro, Sprague said he decided to eliminate the dry dock as part of his business plan and rearranged some of the floating docks in the area to alleviate some of the concerns of the tug boat captains.  “The dry dock remains at Roger Hale’s dock. (Deke’s Wharf)  We aren’t happy about that and neither is he,” said Sprague.  However, these changes did not appear to mitigate the concerns of the tug boat captains and their attorneys there over surge in the area which could cause damage for which McAllister would be liable.

The hour-long meeting  was especially notable because of the number of attorneys attending it.  There were five attorneys at the meeting.   City attorney Larry Walden, Michael Savasuk of Troubh Heisler, and   Peter Plumb on behalf of the applicant, Leonard W. Langer, Esq., representing Portland Pilots Association and the aforementioned Jonathan Shapiro, representing McAllister. At the meeting, a Commissioner requested a walk-through at Portland Yacht Services to see what kind of equipment will be used to secure the docks prior to the upcoming public hearing on January 10th.  Dan Haley, suggested that the applicant, Sprague, present two proposals at the upcoming public hearing; one with the dry dock and one without it. 

The public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 10th, in Council chambers at city hall at 5:00 pm.  Public comment will be taken at that time. 

Shapiro’s 2 l/2 page, December letter to the Commission copied numerous people including Mayor Michael Brennan and city manager Mark Rees. McAllister’s  corporate headquarters are in New York City.

For more background information, please see Post # 1,266, dated ll/27/27.