Trash, loud generators, emissions and pedestrian safety are just some of the concerns that officials in Portland, Maine are trying to address as they consider creating a permanent food truck park on or near the city’s Eastern Promenade.
During a recent meeting, city councilors examined ideas for modifying street or off-street sites to allow for the installation of permanent electrical hookups and in-ground trash receptacles able to hold hundreds of gallons of waste to accommodate a permanent home for food trucks from April to October.
Some options would call for the elimination of as many as 30 street parking spaces and charge license fees to food truck owners of approximately $5,000.
For Jordan Rubin, the owner of Mr. Tuna, which operates a food truck on the Eastern Promenade, a formal food truck park that cuts down on trash along with air and noise pollution from generators would be beneficial.
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"It has the potential to be really great," he said, adding that three years ago he never would have expected so many people to be interested in ordering from food trucks in that area.
"It happened really fast," he said, noting that the popularity of picnicking outside on the Eastern Prom skyrocketed after the pandemic began in 2020.
Other Portlanders in the East End on Monday agreed with Rubin.
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"To have an organized spot would make it better," said Mairead Kiernan, explaining that she had parked her car "the wrong way," in to order to get lunch from a food truck.
"I think it’s a pretty good solution," said Conor Crandall who lives on nearby Melbourne Street.
There are also people who do not want a food truck park to get built at all or at least not right at the top of the Eastern Promenade.
In a meeting on March 23, one person told city councilors that property owners or renters paying a premium for a waterfront location were having that added value of their homes detracted by the presence of food trucks.
"Your view got taken away by all the ugly trucks sitting in front of you," the East End resident said.
According to Portland city spokesperson Jessica Grondin, Portland’s city manager will have the final say over which specific plan moves forward, what dates the trucks may park for each season, what the final fees and a final say on whether or not a food truck park is built at all.
If she does decide the project is a worthwhile investment, Grondin noted that a park would likely not be operational until late spring or early summer.