Friday, August 21, 2009

Maine: inflating repair costs, cruise ship benefits

For the past couple of years I've been trying to play the role of journalistic watchdog on two large waterfront projects here in Portland, Maine. Regular readers are aware of the city's troublesome handling of the construction of Ocean Gateway (a cruise ship terminal without a cruise ship berth) and a massive development project to "save" the city's primary deep water berth, the Maine State Pier.

Last month two separate studies confirmed what many have long suspected: that the economic benefits of cruise ship tourism were oversold and that the Maine State Pier never needed to be "rescued" by private developers (who happened to include the governor's brother, his cousin, George Mitchell, an ex-mayor, and a number of donors to certain city councilors' campaigns.)

The studies are the subject of my column in September's Working Waterfront, now available online, which includes an analysis of the city's assumptions about cruise ship benefits, and responses from city officials and former transportation director Jeff Monroe.

Obviously there are two meaty investigative stories here, ones one would hope larger newsrooms than mine would be interested in exploring.


  1. Oh my god, Colin! You really nailed it this time. Excellent investigation - right down to the last dime.

    And why didn't Diver Down on Presumpscot Street get an RFP for a pier inspection? They handle all the moorings in the harbor anyway, don't they?

    Thanks for saving Portland, man! Looking forward to more top-notch reporting.


  2. Thanks, JohnnyD, although from the look of things the rest of the media is going to continue to ignore this, so I'm not sure Portland's been saved yet.