Out of the ashes, on to the plates: 'Phoenix Fare' celebrates Portland's East Bayside

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PORTLAND — Working knuckle deep in rising dough on Sept. 3, Paul Farrell stopped to think about doing business in East Bayside.

“I have grown to love this neighborhood more than I ever thought I would,” said the owner of Union Bagel Co. at 147 Cumberland Ave.

In that spirit, Farrell will take part in “Phoenix Fare” on Thursday, Sept. 17, a day of free lectures, films, book discussions and tours along the neighborhood streets.

The events will highlight development in the neighborhood bounded by Washington and Cumberland avenues, Franklin Street and Marginal Way, where a $200,000  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant to the Greater Portland Council of Governments will be used to assess environmental conditions.

The neighborhood was one of 20 in the nation selected by the agency for the Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grant. CPCOG will work with city officials, and neighborhood residents and business owners to determine the amount of contaminated soil and create a development plan for the neighborhood.

According to the EPA, “Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”

Farrell, who has been in business since Memorial Day 2013, sells his bagels at the shop and wholesale, a part of the burgeoning food economy that will be highlighted at an 8:30 a.m. presentation at the Merrill Auditorium Rehearsal Hall, 20 Myrtle St.

Ryan Wallace of the University of Southern Maine Center for Business & Economic Research will discuss the benefits of food production in the local economy, highlighted by the premiere of “Scaling Local,” a 70-minute documentary film produced by Caroline Parras of GPCOG.

The film features businesses Coffee by Design, Rising Tide Brewing, Maine Craft Distilling and Urban Farm Fermentory. With seating limited, those interested in attending are asked to register online.

At noon, local historian Allan Levinsky will host a talk at the Merrill Auditorium Rehearsal Hall on his book about the July 4, 1866, fire that destroyed more than 1,000 Portland buildings and left 10,000 people homeless.

Ash and debris from the fire were dumped into Back Cove, creating the landscape for the Bayside neighborhood. The mythical phoenix bird, which rose from its own ashes, became a symbol of the city’s rebirth.

The economic rebirth of East Bayside will be on view through the afternoon with self-guided walking tours of neighborhood from noon to 7 p.m. Tour maps are available at gpcog.org.

The participating businesses are Union Bagel, Ten Ten Pie, Coffee by Design, Tandem Coffee, Rising Tide Brewing, Oxbow Beer, Bunker Brewing, Maine Mead Works, Maine Craft Distilling and Urban Farm Fermentory, with some offering guided tours.

Along the way, food from local food carts and trucks will also be available.

From 3-7 p.m., an EPA mobile lab will visit the Boyd Street Urban Farm in Kennedy Park to provide free screenings for lead content in local soil. Members of city-based Cultivating Community will provide tips for lead-safe gardening.

Soil sample bags and instructions are now available near the center staircase at Portland City Hall, 389 Congress St., and at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square.

Phoenix Fare is just the start of the process, City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said. Public forums and meetings will lead to the creation of action teams to develop recommendations that will ultimately be presented to the City Council.

Union Bagel will get some new exposure, but Farrell said he is looking forward to the overall discovery of the neighborhood during Phoenix Fest.

“This is an honest, working neighborhood,” he said. “I find that more exciting.” 

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

“I have grown to love this neighborhood more than I ever thought I would,” Union Bagel Co. owner Paul Farrell, right, said Sept. 3 at his Cumberland Avenue business in Portland. The city’s East Bayside neighborhood will be the focus of “Phoenix Fare” on Thursday, Sept. 17.

A mobile lab will provide free soil screenings at the Boyd Street Urban Farm in Portland’s Kennedy Park on Sept. 17 as part of “Phoenix Fare.”

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.