The proposed east-west highway is drawing a lot of concern from residents whose towns or townships may be along the route. This is typical of any improvement proposed in Maine to help the business environment.

These towns need the state’s financial backing to fund essentials within their communities, so by resisting business improvements such as this highway, they are placing the burden further on other taxpayers.

Interstate 95 was extended some years ago to Houlton, and it passes through essentially the same type of rural towns that are against this new highway proposal.

Howland, Medway, Hersey Township and Sherman Mills do not seem in ruins when I go through. I see commercial activity in these areas commingling with the local small businesses, which, of course, employ many local residents.

The small-town cohesiveness is still present, and the opportunity for the next generations to remain in or return to the areas is greatly improved, due to the highway access and subsequent connection to the business arteries within and outside Maine.

The proposal is just a highway, but it is facing opposition as if it were a pipeline carrying nuclear waste.

Every road we drive on in Maine was an improvement over an existing rural trail or a new pathway from point to point.

We have found a way to keep Maine beautiful yet accessible in those areas, so why do those communities have so little faith we could not continue this balance of nature versus business?

“Not in my backyard” has to stop being the first reaction to infrastructure changes or business expansion if we are to move into the future as a fiscally stable state.

Andy Soucy

Biddeford

Cousins’ position on ferry helps preserve Chebeague

Regarding your report on the conflict between Chebeague Island and Cousins Island (“Ferry that joins also separates islanders,” March 18) over the “influx of traffic, noise, trash and commotion brought to Cousins Island by hundreds of residents bound for Chebeague Island”:

According to my colleague David Hill, who managed Chebeague Transportation Co. for a number of years, “It’s a fight for survival of the (Chebeague) island.” He added that the traffic on Cousins is “no different than any other place where cars pass by houses.”

I may be in the minority, or even a minority of one, but I’d suggest that the constraints on people coming to Chebeague are a blessing in disguise.

Cousins Island, with a bridge to the mainland, is largely a suburb of Portland. I rather doubt residents leave their doors unlocked or keys in their cars, as we can still do on Chebeague. And why do many parents hover over their children awaiting the school bus?

On Chebeague, all of this will change for the worse, of course. There are owners of open spaces and woodlots who want to sell, businesses that want more customers and construction workers who would like to build more homes. But, to the extent that Cousins Island impedes the flow of people, cars, trucks and buses that pass by their houses, that change will occur more slowly.

Cousins Island, then, can help preserve the survival of Chebeague Island as we now know it. It is, unfortunately, not very likely that Chebeague will do this on its own.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island

Workplace tragedy shows why ‘gun-free zones’ fail

I read the Feb. 28 article “Business safety concerns vs. gun permit holders.” I was particularly intrigued by how Downeast Energy banned firearms from company property after the deranged ex-boyfriend of one of their employees murdered that employee, then shot himself.

“(Scott) Bunting, who was not a Downeast employee, died outside the office after shooting himself in the throat.” Note in particular: “not a Downeast employee.”

So does Downeast Energy really believe if their workplace had been a “gun-free zone,” it would have somehow prevented this tragedy? On the contrary, had a Downeast employee been carrying a firearm, perhaps that dead employee would still be alive today.

This is a great example of why the flawed logic of “gun-free zones” does not save lives but puts more lives in danger. I wish the whole world could understand that. It’s so obvious.

That said, I’m very happy that I no longer buy my oil from Downeast Energy.

Erik Winter

Windham

Readers offer different ideas on Portland plaza’s future

This is regarding the letter “Newspaper reinforces bias against park” (March 15):

I am a peninsula resident of Portland, own my home and pay taxes to the city. Saving a small piece of property that is a burden to the taxpayers and resembles a vacant lot more than a park seems absolutely ludicrous.

We have an opportunity to put this property back on the tax rolls and provide the city with another much-needed ballroom.

We are a destination city, an attractive city and a pedestrian-friendly city. With the addition of another ballroom, the city will attract more convention-type business as well as the many tourists who choose to vacation here. The occupancy tax and meal tax will add additional revenue to the city’s and state’s coffers.

In my opinion, selling the “park” to the Westin Hotel – a premier accommodation – is a win-win.

As far as hangouts are concerned, Longfellow Square is close by and Deering Oaks is just down the hill.

Bruce Erwin Johnson

Portland

I am a lifelong resident of Portland and have lived on Park Street for 30 years. I have been following the Congress Square plaza controversy and have to add my opinion to the discussion.

While a plaza at the intersection of High and Congress streets is laudable, the design and presentation are terrible. Sunken spaces with two dead sides never, ever work.

Better to sell part of the plaza – not the whole plaza, but the back third – to the hotel with stipulations that it maintain full-time access from the rear of the plaza.

The city can work with the owner of Yes Books about opening the side flank of the building, and then you have a lively, hopefully well-designed public space (with, God forbid, a water fountain, but that is another letter).

James Bruni

Portland