September 22, 2019
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Developer wants to set up shops in Portland’s historic Civil War fort

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Fort Gorges, named for an early English proprietor of the area, sits on Hog Island Ledge in Portland Harbor. Begun in 1858, it was finished in 1864 but never garrisoned.

The future of Fort Gorges is up for debate.

A developer is pitching the idea of setting up shops on the historic landmark, which was built during the Civil War.

But there was consensus during a Wednesday night meeting hosted by the Portland Parks Conservancy and Parks Commission that Fort Gorges is in dire need of structural preservation.

“I’d like to see the plan the Friends of Fort Gorges proposed, where it has some limited events oriented use and stabilized,” Portland resident Sam Frankel said.

[A picturesque island fort off Portland is getting some much-needed safety upgrades]

People discussed ways to support public parks, from private fundraising to commercialization.

Friends of Fort Gorges, a group formed to maintain the fort, said earlier this year that a developer pitched an idea to bring businesses to the island.

Not many residents were in support of the plan to build shops, restaurants and a bed and breakfast on Fort Gorges, but city officials wanted to clear up that all of that is just an idea and no official proposals have been presented.

“When you go today to Deering Oaks, you’re not aware of that beautiful little refreshment area,” Portland resident Arthur Fink said. “There are kinds of businesses that are compatible with a park and some that are not.”

In a survey, most residents supported the idea of allowing limited activities on the island that would support its future.

“My biggest concern is the environmental integrity and the historical integrity of Portland, because I see it change so much every day and I hope that in in my future I’ll have the same experience,” Portland resident Laura Mills said.

Next, officials will compile the results of the survey and share it with the city, who will have the final say of what’s next for Fort Gorges.

Related: Portland’s Fort Gorges

 



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