As an active member of the Parkside neighborhood, I wanted to reiterate my support of the Rockbridge project for Congress Square Plaza.

I was present and made public comments at all of the public meetings and have spent time learning more to ensure I could properly form my opinion. It disheartens me that I am now hearing rumblings of delays, referendums, etc. A further delay on this would only further delay the opportunity to finally allow this area of Portland to live up to its potential.

I have spent time speaking with business owners in my neighborhood, members of my condo association and fellow residents. Across the board, people I speak with are in support of an events and conference center that would occupy part of the space. In exchange, we look forward to a smaller yet more functional and beautiful park at street level.

Opponents to this proposal have argued that we should protect public space. To me, the proposal is a compromise — allowing progress and a boost to local business while maintaining a smaller park as public space owned by the city.

I am pleased to know the public will be involved in the process of deciding how to renovate the park and even more pleased to know that Rockbridge will match the city’s allocated funds for this project.

As a property owner, long-term resident of Parkside, member of the Williston-Immanuel United Church and small-business owner myself, I am hopeful the process will move forward as planned.

I am always proud to live and work in Portland — but I will be even more proud to show off this beautiful new development and much nicer public park at the end of my street.

Jill Barkley

Portland

State Senate hopeful makes education her top priority

Quality education is the pathway to successful business starts or satisfactory employment, and our tax dollars fund our local schools.

School districts in state Senate District 19 (Arrowsic, Bath, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Dresden, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Richmond, Topsham, West Bath, Woolwich and the unorganized township of Perkins) are facing drastic cutbacks as a result of Gov. LePage and his fellow Republicans’ unwillingness to properly fund our schools. (Our Democratic legislators fought back so that the cuts were not as drastic as LePage was trying to impose.)

On Aug. 27, in a special election to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Seth Goodall, we get to choose our state senator. My vote, and I hope yours, will go to Eloise Vitelli.

She’s a former preschool teacher, school committee member and a believer that investing in public education is the foundation for a healthy economy and a strong Maine. She has a graduate degree in education from the University of Southern Maine.

Eloise, a current member of the Maine Economic Growth Council, has devoted most of her career to empowering women in the workplace and helping men and women (more than 3,000 of them) successfully begin their own businesses, and she has never lost sight of the role education plays.

It is, therefore, no surprise to learn that she has earned the support of many in the business community as well as the Maine Education Association and the Maine State Employees Association.

In its endorsement of Eloise, the MEA said, in part, “The students, parents and educators in Senate District 19 need Eloise Vitelli in Augusta advocating for our schools and our communities.”

Whom you vote for does make a difference; make your vote count and cast it for Eloise Vitelli.

Polly Shaw

Bath

Obama’s OK on Keystone would give recovery a boost 

President Obama recently made some disparaging remarks indicating a renewed opposition to final permitting for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The president has previously indicated a likelihood of approving the final pipeline permit — specifically during election season in 2008 and again in 2012 — only to backtrack once the Oval Office was secured each time.

The president is in a difficult place as he must serve two masters: the environmental lobby, which overwhelmingly supported both his campaigns, as well as the reality that Keystone is a shovel-ready project that could help the country through this economic recovery.

Opponents of the project in the renewable energy lobby reject the initiative claiming that pipeline construction is not “green,” but when other alternatives are considered, Keystone XL is clearly the best option for the environment in both the short and long term.

If President Obama fails to approve the final permit to allow construction to begin, Canada has made it clear that it will proceed with developing Alberta’s oil sands with or without an American partnership. If the U.S. rejects the pipeline, the energy sources will likely be piped to Canada’s West Coast for tanker shipment to China, causing higher emissions than pipelines.

There are more than 2 million American construction workers out of work right now. These are the middle-class jobs held by working families that return the greatest portion of their income back into the market. I implore President Obama to put the best interests of the country first and allow construction to begin, now.

Nick Popovich

Portland

Repeat-OUI laws fell short in protecting Biddeford man

The terrible crash that claimed the life of Jamerico Elliott of Biddeford should not have occurred.

It is an insult to all Maine people that the state allowed David Labonte to be behind the wheel after four operating-under-the-influence convictions (irrespective of when the violations occurred) without an alcohol detection interlock device, which would have prevented him from driving if alcohol were present in his system.

According to York County District Attorney Kathryn Slattery (“Driver who hit Biddeford cyclists charged with manslaughter, driving drunk,” Aug. 10), “We have pretty good laws to deal with repeat offenders.”

This is so very insensitive, and I would like to know if she has asked Mr. Elliott’s family if they agree with her. This attitude, especially among those we trust to keep us safe, is problematic in preventing further incidents that are likely to occur.

Lee Tabenken

Falmouth