2016-02-12 / Letters

Great minds think alike

To the editor:

In 1969, at the ripe age of 35, I moved from Boston to South Portland to become the marketing manager of Fairchild Semiconductor on Western Avenue. At that time an oil refinery company had made motions to locate a true refinery (just like you see on the New Jersey Turnpike after crossing the George Washington Bridge).

Shortly after arriving here, I met with Bernal Allen, then city manager.The subject was, “How do you make products that require clean rooms in a poor atmosphere?” There were no environmental regulations in place at that time and when the city held an open meeting at Mahoney Junior High, I stood up and openly pointed out the fact the oil refinery people were not lying, but not telling the whole truth. Legislation was just starting to enact environmental regulations. None were in place at that time.

I point this out as personally, I can come down on both sides of a fence.

In 1969, in the city hall council meeting room, I was there and listened to Allen speak of things the city needed to attend to.

• There needed to be east-west highways across South Portland. That was 1969. That was 47 years ago – say a half century for good measure. There is no need to discuss progress here.

There is an existing corporation, founded in World War II, right here in South Portland that has over the years, been extremely friendly to the city itself. We have benefited from the existence of this company. Times change, rules change, laws change and I believe that it is time for new thinking.

You may not like Donald J. Trump, working hard to be the next president of the United States. I don’t think I like him either. But you know what Donald Trump is known for? He is a professional successful negotiator. He does not like court action. I don’t either.

So you ask, what do we have to negotiate? That is quite simple. And if you’re successful, you can commence a turnaround in the fortunes of South Portland. By turnaround I mean tax increases will not exceed inflation like it does today. Senior citizens are having a hard time now.

You have a good idea, of the tax return to the city we guess from ocean front and ocean view residential land and improvements. Find the average per square foot. That’s a lot of return. Then measure that against all the oil storage tanks we have in South Portland, yes mostly on the waterfront too. I measured that years ago and at that time the return was very poor.

Oh but you say we have contacts where they have the right to that land. Yup they do.

Now, if the city was clever they could begin a, yes you guessed it, a negotiation with the owners of the oil tanks, the Portland Pipeline Corporation to move, the more the tanks inland to a remote area where oil trucks are not running down residential streets causing issues with the taxpayers. Land where tall trees can be planted for cover. But how is the oil going to get from the waterfront to the new storage area. God, if the pipeline can ship oil from here to MontrĂ©al, I don’t think moving it to the outskirts of Cumberland County would be a problem.

What then can we do with all that newly created oceanfront property the just got created? Nothing really because we’re also 50 years late in getting the Army Corps of Engineers to clear out and deepen the south side of the Fore River. Can you imagine what per square foot you could get for all that land with the Fore River dredged?

Today we have environmental laws, both federal and state, that will cover any moves that Portland Pipeline may want to make. I totally disagree with the city and Portland Pipeline going to court to hash out what already exists. This is a big chunk of money that could be use better to improve the lot of the city. And that’s no pun.

Negotiate, negotiate and negotiate again. I will be leaving in two months to make a speech in Vancouver, British, Columbia, for the paper industry having a meeting. When I return, I think it may be suitable for me to address this city council in one of the Monday meetings. I have not done that since we had Bernal T. Allen with us.

Yes, planning takes time, money and effort to do longrange planning. But then again, this is how cities in the West, such as Portland, Oregon, grew while we stood still. If you don’t believe so, compare the dates of incorporation of the two cities and compare the growth of a population. We all live under the same Constitution and the rights that make life easier for people as we grow.

But you can bet that, while I will not be here, someone else will and they will be wondering what the city did for the 22nd century. That door is open for great minds.

Don Curry South Portland

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