Your Viewpoint: Portland cold-storage proposal ignores data

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A citizen-produced report showing that cargo from Maine importers and exporters would fill less than 1.5 percent of a proposed warehouse on Portland’s waterfront drew sharp criticism from Maine Port Authority CEO Jonathan Nass (“Neighbors challenge cold storage proposal as unfit for Portland waterfront,” Sept. 2).

The turnover rates that our citizen report used for pallets in the warehouse were “widely inflated,” Nass said. “I don’t think that range exists anywhere in the industry.”

But we used turnover rates straight from the Port Authority’s files: one from a cold-storage study commissioned by the Port Authority, the second from a proposal the nation’s second-largest cold-storage company, Americold, submitted to the Port Authority.

Nass also said that residents concerned about this warehouse – with one-third more capacity than one Americold decided would be a financial mistake – are “trying anything that could derail this project.”

That is false. Neighbors want maritime cold storage on Portland’s waterfront, but they also want a fact-based development process that respects Portland’s zoning code. Although the Port Authority has already spent about a half-million dollars on planning and public relations for this project, it has yet to provide detailed, verifiable data on maritime cold-storage demand.

Portland residents began the long-overdue task of examining that central question. It’s time for the Port Authority to join in.

Mark McCain
Portland