The Town of Portland has an opportunity to acquire over 5 acres of riverfront property adjacent to the Riverfront Park and across the street from the Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park. (See area outlined in yellow.) Purchase price plus borrowing costs total about $410,000. There is a public hearing on this matter at the Library on Wed. Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. Even more important is for residents to attend the Town Meeting on Wed. Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. when those present will vote on the purchase. A fact sheet with more detailed maps may be found here: Riverfront Property Fact Sheet & Aerial Photos
The Jonah Center has been quietly following the progress of this acquisition since August 2016, when our Board of Directors approved a statement and letter in support of the purchase. The parcels in question were contaminated by the oil depot that operated on the property until some years ago. A remediation plan has been developed and approved by the State of CT, pending municipal acquisition. A video of the consultant, Amy Vaillancourt from Tighe & Bond, explaining the issues of remediation and future use may be viewed here. It is a precious and rare opportunity for any town to gain control of its riverfront for future generation. This is especially true for an area that is suitable for deep-water docking. A failure to acquire could, and probably would, result in the property continuing to be an eyesore, a source of spreading contamination, and the property could easily be used for something like large truck parking or unsightly, outdoor storage. Remember that the Town neglected to acquire the rail bed of the Air Line Trail many years ago, and now we regret that short-sighted decision. Failure to gain control of riverfront property would be even more short-sighted.
Here is one excerpt from the Jonah Center’s letter of support:
We understand that the 3 parcels at issue are contaminated and have been designated as brownfields by the state of Connecticut. The State has assured the Town that the parcels would be accepted into the State Brownfield Revitalization and Redevelopment Program, which provides the Town with certain protections from liability related to contamination that occurred prior to Town ownership. We also understand that the Town’s remediation costs would be covered by a State grant.
Residents of Portland are strongly urged to attend the hearing and Town Meeting mentioned above. More information will be presented at the Feb. 21 hearing. But most important, we urge strong attendance at the Feb. 28 Town Meeting and a vote of YES in recognition of the long term value of recapturing Portland’s riverfront for generations to come.