Responding to Matt Smith’s letter to the editor (“Borders was a place for book-loving community,” July 26), I would like to remind readers that while Borders held an esteemed position as “a location for many to relax, meet up with friends, attend a family event, meet authors … and – yes – find great books,” another organization fits that bill and more.

Your local public library is a free venue that can fulfill the needs of many. Citizens’ use and support of their public library will enhance that institution and make it even more family friendly and useful. Much is happening in local public libraries. Readers are missing a vital part of their reading community if they are not using their public library for the activities Mr. Smith mentions.

Public libraries are part of the fabric of each community. Family, neighbors and friends are there – participating, borrowing, reading, listening, viewing, enjoying, giving and using. Public libraries have been the original recycling institution in each community with the circulation of hundreds of thousands of books, audio books, DVDs and more.

If your public library is not what you wish it to be, join the “friends” group within the library and lobby for change. Your free public library is a dynamic cornerstone within your community.

If you forget it, ignore it, fail to support it, it may disappear just like Borders. Your public library is the “cultural staple” Mr. Smith mentions, and it will be harder to replace than another bookstore.

Marian Peterson

South Portland

 

Strimling’s the best choice for mayor, a supporter says

 

Ethan Strimling’s announcement that he is now running for the newly reconstituted position of mayor of Portland gives me great hope that some of our city’s biggest challenges can actually change for the better.

Ethan is an extraordinarily talented leader who has the practical business and social service experience as the current CEO of LearningWorks, as well as the political wisdom as a highly effective former state senator, to be the first to fill the new mayoral job.

Never being satisfied with the status quo, he took Portland West to a new level as he grew and morphed it into LearningWorks and made sure it is now a financially sound organization.

Also, among the many causes he supports he serves on the Board of EqualityMaine and has generously given his time and energy for years now as a very politically savvy and effective straight ally to help win marriage equality for same-sex couples in Maine. He doesn’t just talk about these things. He works hard, with real determination, building strategic alliances, capitalizing on timely opportunities.

While there are several good candidates running in the very crowded field for mayor of Portland, Ethan stands out for his commitment, experience and track record. He represents the change our fantastic city needs to move ahead in the areas that have stymied the current administration and leaders.

Whoever is elected as our mayor will need to have an extraordinary skill set to effectively build community coalitions and support among citizens in Portland, as well as among the entrenched political forces on the City Council. Our first mayor will need to build trust and credibility to access the authority that will be needed to fulfill the roles responsibilities. Ethan has the experience and skills to be an effective first mayor and take on the challenges, even shake up the status quo.

I am pleased, therefore, that Ethan is running and I will be supporting him.

David Cohan

Peaks Island

 

Franklin Street shows partnership with state

 

Five years ago the Munjoy Hill and Bayside neighborhoods came together to create a new vision for Franklin Street. This envisioned a street that served auto traffic, bicyclists and pedestrians at a high level of safety and mobility. This Franklin Street would be part of our urban fabric, a place to live, shop, eat and work.

The community envisioned a Franklin Street that reconnected neighborhoods, as well as the waterfront and Back Cove. This connection is a critical link between East End neighborhoods, the Bayside Trail, Back Cove Trail, USM, Hannaford and beyond.

This fall, the Maine Department of Transportation will make this a reality by connecting the Franklin Street corridor to the Back Cove trail.

This did not come easily for Portland. DOT initially rejected the request for this connection. Only through years of advocacy and negotiations by multiple supporters of this connection did DOT agree to allow this connection. This trail connection, providing access through the barrier of Interstate 295, will be an important realization of a community vision supported and advocated for through the Franklin Street Study, Portland Trail’s work with the Bayside Trail, neighborhood organizations and hundreds of community supporters who attended workshops, meetings, and wrote emails.

It is the realization of a community vision, inspired by former City Manager Joe Gray’s work on Portland’s Shore Way Access Plan over 25 years ago, attained through shared leadership.

On Aug. 3, DOT, PACTS and the city of Portland shared the plans for the Franklin-Back Cove Connection with the public, and sought input on how this project can best meet the needs of the local community. This is a clear example of Portland constructively saying what it wants and Maine DOT responding.

Our city and Augusta should be proud of this partnership and the results it is producing.

Markos Miller

mayoral candidate chair, Franklin Street Study Committee

Portland

 

All religious law, not just sharia, threatens freedom

 

I hope that those concerned about the imposition of sharia law in the United States recognize the growing threat our freedoms are already under from efforts to impose religious laws on people in the state of Maine.

Efforts to restrict or prohibit abortions and efforts to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples are attempts by fundamentalist Christians to impose religious restrictions on everyone.

Freedom from religious laws is one of the strongest rights we have in our country. Let’s not give it up!

Rachel Narehood Austin

Portland