The city of Portland has secured $750,000 in federal money for a new waterfront park as they resurrect a plan to create a $16 million open space next to Portland Harbor.

U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins announced Tuesday that Portland had received the funding for Portland Landing, a public park proposed along the eastern waterfront.

“Portland’s parks, trails, and outdoor spaces play a critical role in providing access to the bodies of water that make it an attractive destination,” the senators said in a joint statement. “This funding will boost revitalization efforts to improve this area of the city by providing new recreational opportunities for underserved residents and creating vital connections to the Portland waterfront from the downtown district, benefiting residents and visitors of Portland.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s office also highlighted her support for the federal program that provided the funding. As a member of the House’s appropriations committee, Pingree advocated for increase in funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund, which received $495.1 million this year.

“Federal investments like these help open up the waterfront to all who live in, work in, and visit Portland. I’m proud to see my work on the Appropriations Committee come home to Maine, and I’m excited to see this project come to fruition,” Pingree said.

City officials unveiled a $16 million plan two years ago to convert a 1.5-acre surface parking lot, known as the Amethyst lot, into a public park.

The Portland Landing concept included an area for outdoor events, a boardwalk, oversize steps leading down to the water and a community boating area. Plans called for a more natural area along the northern upland side, including berms and other features to protect against storm surges. And Moon Tide Park, a tidal area that contains contaminated dredging material from the 1980s, would be expanded by 15 feet in each direction.

City officials said late last year that they were tabling the full park proposal because of its high cost, while moving forward with a less expensive interim plan. But City Hall Communications Director Jessica Grondin said Tuesday that city staff is expected to introduce the Portland Landing plan to a City Council committee as part of a broader conversation about the eastern waterfront.

“We’re thankful to our federal delegation for their support of our grant application and helping us secure these funds. This funding couldn’t have come at a better time,” Grondin said. “We’re about to reactivate discussions with the Council’s Economic Development Committee regarding the future of the eastern waterfront, which includes Portland Landing, and we look forward to transforming this parcel into open green space that everyone can enjoy.”

In December, the city hired Seabreeze Property Services to create an interim park, at a cost of $176,000, until additional funding can be secured. That work is expected to begin this spring.

The interim park is expected to have raised planter beds, benches and low walls made of reclaimed granite, trees and perennials, lawn areas, walking paths along the water’s edge, a wooden guard rail, swing benches, a plaza for events and food trucks, and a small parking area and roadway for Sail Maine, a nonprofit sailing school.

The $750,000 grant was awarded through the National Park Service’s Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Grant Program, a program funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) State and Local Assistance Program. The LWCF provides funds for natural areas, water resources, cultural heritage and recreation projects through royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the outer continental shelf.

Last year, legislation to permanently reauthorize the LWCF was enacted with support from Collins and King. In April, the senators joined a bipartisan group in introducing legislation to permanently fund LWCF at $900 million per year.

This article was updated Tuesday Jan. 15 to correct the name of Seabreeze Property Services.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.