Monday, September 29, 2008

Public Safety Meeting to Discuss Crime Trends and Safety Tips

What: City Councilor Dave Marshall and representatives from the Portland Police Department invite the public to a Public Safety Committee meeting later this month. Acting Police Chief Joe Loughlin will give a presentation outlining recent crime trends throughout the city and will provide safety tips and actions steps for residents to utilize in the effort to fight crime. Public Comment will be taken and questions will be answered.

When: Tuesday, October 14, 2008

5:30 PM

Where: Council Chambers City Hall, Portland

The City of Portland receives approximately $2.1 million annually of federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for urban planning, development and social service needs in Portland Districts 1, 2 and 3. City Councilor Dave Marshall is seeking input and feedback from residents about CDBG funding at work in their community at a series of public meetings next month. Councilor Marshall and city staff will also provide an update on the work underway by the CDBG Task Force. The CDBG Task Force has been charged with reviewing current allocations of CDBG funds and making recommendations for priorities on how to use of these funds in the future.

District 2 Meeting (West End, Parkside, and St. John Valley)
Hosted by Councilor Dave Marshall
October 2 at 6:30 PM
Reiche Community Center, 166 Brackett Street

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Portland Announces Façade Improvement Program

9/23/2008 - NEWS ADVISORY
City of Portland
389 Congress Street
Portland, Maine 04101
CONTACT: Nicole Clegg, 207-756-8173, 207-272-4477 (cell)

September 22, 2008

Portland Announces Façade Improvement Program
Grants offered to improve storefronts available for businesses and properties located on Congress Street

What: The City of Portland’s Economic Development Division announces a new grant program for businesses and properties located along Congress Street between Monument Square and Longfellow Square. The program offers grants and architectural assistance to restore or renovate commercial storefronts and replace deteriorated or poor quality commercial signs and awnings. Grants must be matched be an equal investment in private funds.

The Façade Improvement Program offers grants of up to $20,000 for individual storefronts and up to $2,000 for signs and awnings. The program funded by the federal Community Development Block grants will cap out at $84,000 and therefore, priority will be placed upon applications that will have the greatest impact on enhancing the streetscape. Grant applications are due by November 7, 2008.

For more information about the program, visit the city’s website at Portland Facade Improvement Program.

Who: City staff from Economic Development, Historic Preservation and Community Development as well as the program architect John Whipple.

"The city is pleased to offer this grant opportunity to business and property owners as a tool to help strengthen the revitalization of downtown Congress Street,” stated City Manager Joe Gray. “Portland's program is modeled on successful facade improvement programs in Maine and throughout the U.S. One key to their success is providing sufficient incentives to spark increased private investment in the renaissance of downtowns.”

When: Monday, October 6, 2008
5:30 PM

Where: City Hall - Room 24
Portland In A Snap

September 24, 2008
Gettin' artsy at the market

Not only is the Portland Farmers' Market the place to score the best tasting eats, it's also a prime spot for scoping out the local artistic talent. One artist you can always count on seeing at the market is David Marshall, who's at the far left in the above photo. His neon-colored works depict Portland street scenes and local landscapes. And not only is he a DAM fine artist, but he's also a city councilor. Which means should you want to gripe about city government, he's right there at the market ready to lend an ear.

Here are a few other artists you're likely to run into at the market:

Paula Collier runs Funky Designs with her daughter Katherine Evans. Today she had some really cool found object pendants that she tells me have been a hot item.

Jeffree Lerner paints these fun panels that have a mystical, tribal feel.

Kimberly Wilder (who is camera shy) runs Wilder Designs and creates lovely necklaces and bracelets with a primary focus on pearls and semi-precious stones.

I'm so thankful for all these creative people who make Portland a more interesting city just by setting up shop on the street.
Posted by Avery Yale Kamila at 12:57 PM

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Cruise lines change course to cut fuel

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- When the 1,020-foot Explorer of the Seas cruises through North Atlantic waters next year, it'll spend more time off the coast of New England and less time near Canadian shores, and it's not because of better vistas.
Royal Caribbean's Majesty Of The Seas, one of the ships charting a new course to save on fuel costs.

Royal Caribbean's Majesty Of The Seas, one of the ships charting a new course to save on fuel costs.

Royal Caribbean International and other cruise lines have begun charting a new course in search of routes that eat up less fuel. Already one of the industry's biggest costs, record fuel prices have cut heavily into the bottom line.

The impact of shifting itineraries will certainly have implications beyond the bottom line of cruise operators, creating winners and losers in port towns all along the way.

When cruise ships pull into Maine's Bar Harbor, passengers spend an average of $105 each while ashore, according to a 2002 University of Maine study.

Explorer of the Seas can carry more than 3,000 passengers.

A ship even half that size could mean nearly $160,000 per visit. That means big money in Portland, which expects more than 30 visits next year from ships that can carry between 1,000 and 3,000 passengers.

While Portland stands to reap big rewards from the itinerary changes, port cities along Canada's Atlantic coast could be on the losing end.

Canada's Atlantic ports saw a 33 percent jump in cruise ship visits between 2000 and 2007, according to the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association.

"It's disappointing to be losing a bit of business, but we realize that cruise lines have to make decisions based on best-business practices," said Betty MacMillan, vice chairwoman of Atlantic Canada Cruise Association and business development manager of the port of Saint John, New Brunswick.

Royal Caribbean International changed the fall itinerary for the Explorer of the Seas along its northern route next year, shortening the distance between ports. Rather than sail from New Jersey to Quebec City and back, the ship will add stops in New England and go no farther than Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Fuel consumption was the primary reason, said Vice President Diana Block.

"You have to look at where the biggest benefit is financially with the least impact on the guests," she said.

Ships' fuel bills on the rise

Annual fuel bills for cruise lines can add up to hundreds of millions of dollars and their ships can gobble up tens of thousands of gallons of fuel on any given cruise. The price of intermediate fuel oil, which most cruise ships use, has risen in tandem with crude oil.

Many cruise lines have added fuel surcharges to passenger bills, but energy costs continue to cut into profits and squeeze margins.

Cruise lines have also begun using energy-efficient light bulbs and new window coatings that reflect the heat from the sun to keep rooms cooler. They've also been using new hull paint that reduces a ship's drag in the water.

And increasingly, cruise lines are altering itineraries so ships can slow down and reduce their travel distances, said Lanie Fagan, spokeswoman for the Cruise Line International Association. Carnival Corp., Norwegian Cruise Line and others have said high fuel costs are a factor in new routes.

"While it is paramount to offer a cruise itinerary that a guest wants to sail, the design and sequence of that itinerary can be evaluated to minimize the distance between ports of call and the speed necessary to accomplish that itinerary," Fagan said.

In many cases, passengers will barely notice the difference.

Besides changing port calls on some routes, Royal Caribbean is reviewing its departure and arrival. In some cases, ships are leaving port half an hour earlier at night or arriving half an hour later in the morning -- allowing ships to travel at slower speeds between ports.

Go slow, save money

Cutting speed cuts costs. For example, going 23 knots will consume twice as much fuel as going 15 knots for the new Solstice class of ship being launched this year by Celebrity Cruises, said John Krousouloudis, senior vice president for marine operations.

Even as cruise lines watched fuel prices ratchet up costs, some port cities had already seen an opportunity.

In Maine, a consortium that promotes Portland as a cruise ship destination is using high fuel costs as part of its marketing strategy.

Last fall, Discover Portland & Beyond Executive Director Sandra Needham met with half a dozen cruise ship companies in south Florida. She presented them with some mock itineraries for their ships detailing how much money they could save in fuel costs if they included Portland on certain routes.

Besides touting southern Maine's attractions, Needham wanted to show cruise line executives how having port calls relatively close together could save them money.

By stopping at ports that are relatively close together, the ships could cruise at speeds of 12 knots or so rather than higher fuel-guzzling speeds, she said. Her itineraries showed that a few tweaks here and there could save cruise lines between $40,000 and $100,000 a week in fuel alone -- and that was ten months ago, when fuel prices were lower.

She thinks the high price of fuel is one reason cruise lines have committed to bringing large ships, those with over 1,000 passengers, to Portland 34 times next year, up from 24 stops this year.
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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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