September 3, 2013

Letters to the editor: Bayside project too big for Portland

Will everyone who wants to see four 165-foot modern industrial towers and two 70-foot parking garages as their first view of Portland when arriving by car please raise a hand?

An artist’s rendering of the first phase of the Bayside apartment and retail complex known as midtown. A critic of the project says that it would permanently alter “the face of Portland.”

Image by CBT Architects, Boston

If we could see the response, we'd see the hands of the Portland Planning Board, a local developer, a Boston architect and the corporate hand of the Miami company that expects to buy the land strip between Trader Joe's and Whole Foods for $2.2 million and build those towers and the parking garages for 1,100 cars. (No kidding! Eleven hundred cars parked behind Walgreens and Planet Fitness.)

To visualize the impact of this project, the developer should be requested to park four cranes extended to 165 feet -- one at the site of each tower -- and two 70-foot cranes where the parking garages will be.

A billboard with a description of the project and an email address for public comments should be placed at the corner behind Trader Joe's and next to Whole Foods, and this assembly should be left up for a month.

Once these buildings go up, the face of Portland is forever changed.

Now is the only chance to prevent a calamity much worse than the destruction of the train station! Make your voice heard at the Planning Board meeting at City Hall on Sept. 10, or contact Mayor Michael Brennan.

Patricia E. Garrett

Portland

Maine's senators fall short by failing to urge aid cutoff

Our U.S. senators, like the Egyptian generals, are on the wrong side of history.

David Rohde ("U.S. offers feckless response to Egypt's avoidable massacre," Aug. 19) notes that the killing of 638 protesters by Egyptian security forces was "one of the largest massacres of protesters since the 1989 assault on Tiananmen Square." This was followed by killings of 50 protesters at a Cairo mosque and 36 held in custody by Egyptian security forces, some showing signs of torture.

U.S. law requires the cut-off of military aid when an elected government is removed by coup.

What Mr. Rohde said of our president's failure to stop such aid is true of our senators: "The message the White House sent to young Islamists in Egypt last week was clear: What jihadists have been telling you about American hypocrisy for years is true. Democratic norms apply to everyone but you. Participating in elections is pointless. Violence is the route to power.

Reasons given by one of our senators for failing to end military aid was that Egypt is a crucial treaty partner of Israel, producing 25 years of stability in the region, and that we gain influence in Egypt by providing such aid.

Stability in the region is not found by providing dollars for tanks and other weapons to generals bent on destroying the Muslim Brotherhood. Parallels exist in Algeria (1992) where Islamists had victory stolen by a military-backed government, resulting in years of destabilization and thousands of deaths as the U.S. supported a junta with a "wink and a nod."

That we will lose influence where Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry, and Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, unsuccessfully tried persuading the generals not to crack down on the protesters does not pass the "straight-face" test.

Our senators failed to show the independence and leadership expected of Maine senators and are complicit in what Mr. Rohde terms an "enormous mistake."

(Continued on page 2)

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