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- The Forecaster
PORTLAND — With ferry service to Nova Scotia gone, the city has found a temporary use for the vehicle queuing area outside the Ocean Gateway Terminal on Thames Street.
The new use could also produce more revenue than the city earned from The Cat ferry.
City councilors on Monday approved a request by City Manager Jon Jennings to turn the staging area into a parking lot with at least 150 spaces, with availability April 15-Oct. 31 this year.
The lot, which Jennings emphasized would not be permanent, would provide flat-rate parking for $15 a day, City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said March 14. The city will install pay-and-display meters that accept credit card payments, and users will be allowed to park for up to 15 consecutive days.
If filled each day without vehicle turnover, the new lot could generate $448,000 in revenue for the city. The Cat ferry, which linked the city with Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, produced revenue of $200,000 last year.
Grondin said Department of Public Works crews will likely re-stripe the lot, which is expected to be used by tourists, businesses and visitors.
The city does not expect to incur additional staffing expenses for the lot, aside from adding it to the route for parking enforcement officers.
The new spaces also offset the 100 spaces lost at the Thames Street lot adjacent to the new WEX headquarters on Hancock Street, where Thames Street is being extended this year.
All-day parking at the unpaved Thames Street lot costs $10 per day, with an eight-day maximum stay, according to the city website.
Work to extend Thames Street by about 350 feet will begin this spring. The bid was awarded last month to D&C Construction for $1.9 million and also includes adding a stormwater outfall. By terms of the bid contract, the paving must be completed by Sept. 13.
The Cat ferry service shifted to Bar Harbor this year after serving the city from 2016-2018. Prior to that, service to Nova Scotia was provided by the Nova Star ferry in 2014-2015.
While ferry service never reached envisioned levels of 100,000 passengers annually, cruise ship business at the nearby Ocean Gateway Terminal has increased.
This year’s schedule anticipates 107 visits beginning May 11 and running through Nov. 1. At full capacity, the ships would bring 167,000 passengers to the city, along with 63,000 crew members.
The queuing lot is not needed for cruise ship operations, and its reuse will be part of the redevelopment of the area around the Portland Ocean Terminal.
At Monday’s meeting, after city resident Steven Scharf said he believed the parking would be allowed to become permanent, Councilor Justin Costa said the Economic Development Committee he leads will be discussing the future of the lot.
“I firmly expect this will be temporary,” Costa said. “I have heard no one voice support for long-term parking as the best use for this.”
Portland city councilors on Monday approved converting the queuing area outside Ocean Gateway Terminal on Thames Street into a 150-space daily parking lot open from mid-April through October.
Vehicles queue last June for Cat ferry service to Nova Scotia, using an area the city will convert to a parking lot for daily use.