Portland's Eastern Prom too crowded for boat ramp?

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PORTLAND — A community group is making finding a new place for the city’s commercial boat ramp a priority for improving the Eastern Promenade park.

As park use increases along the waterfront, the commercial boat ramp there is becoming a safety issue for the public, said Diane Davison, president of Friends of the Eastern Promenade.

The commercial ramp is used to send heavy equipment and construction materials to the islands in Casco Bay. The city barge uses the ramp for island services, including hauling trash and Public Services equipment. It is at the foot of the Prom, south of the recreational boat launch.

City Hall spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said moving the ramp is included in the master plan for the park, and the city plans to begin meetings with staff and the Friends in May.

Relocating the ramp won’t be a quick process, she said. The state Department of Environmental Protection needs to be involved, along with engineers. Routes and travel time also need to be considered.

Davison said truck traffic down Cutter Street causes “pedestrian conflicts.” She also said that the eastern waterfront has seen an increase in recreational use in recent years.

“As recreation increases at the park, it pushes this issue to the foreground,” Davison said.

Commercial use in the winter is also an issue, she said, because heavy equipment is stored in the parking lot at the bottom of Cutter Street, causing safety issues for people sledding on the hill.

Davison said one possibility is to move the ramp closer to Ocean Gateway.

Other priorities

Friends of the Eastern Promenade has developed a list of priorities based on the park’s Master Plan. In addition to moving the commercial boat ramp, they include rehabilitation of Fort Allen Park, management of invasive plant species, restoration of the Cleeves Monument and adding signs and an information kiosk.

Fort Allen Park needs a complete restoration, Davison said. A request for proposals is being issued for an architect to help with the project. Among the restorative needs are the cannon carriages, wrought iron fencing and painting the bandstand.

Invasive bamboo north of Fort Allen Circle will be treated this summer, Davison said.

The Cleeves Monument, at the end of Congress Street, needs a new wrought iron fence and some landscaping, she said.

Davison also said the summer concert series at the bandstand will be revived this summer, with seven concerts.

The Friends will host a neighborhood meeting May 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the East End Community School to discuss what is planned for the park. Davison also said that the Friends are seeking funding for projects from grants and private donors.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katebucklin.

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