October 17, 2018
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Portland fishermen skeptical over proposed waterfront development

Archetype PA image courtesy of CBS 13
Archetype PA image courtesy of CBS 13
This Archetype PA rendering depicts a proposed redevelopment of Portland's Fishermen's and Widgery wharves, featuring a hotel, parking garage and restaurants.

Portland’s working waterfront could be a thing of the past, as developers and fisherman continue to butt heads over the once-thriving area.

For 50 years, Willis Spear has been a lobsterman, but what’s been hard to take, is the change around Portland’s waterfront.

He’s seen new buildings pop up, and fisherman pushed out.

“Hotels can be put anywhere, but the fishermen, they can’t go anywhere, they have to have these wharfs to survive,” Spear said.

A new proposal to transform Widgery and Fisherman’s wharves is still working its way through city planning.

David Bateman says his project, which includes a hotel, parking garage and restaurants, won’t affect any fisherman.

“There are no fisherman on Fisherman’s Wharf, which is kind of funny, but there haven’t been for decades,” Bateman said.

He says they’ve been working with everyone who uses the wharfs to have a minimal impact.

“We’ve spent a lot of time with our neighbors, ‘How can we be good neighbors? How can our development fit in?’” Bateman said.

But some fishermen are skeptical.

“The hotel is a major economic driver to allow us to be able to provide those types public improvements and marine improvements we need to do and we think bring that area up to a whole new level,” Bateman said.

For Willis Spear, he hopes his livelihood will be preserved.

“This is not just another pretty face, it is a working waterfront — one of the last in America, by the way,” Spear said.

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