May 4, 2013

Letter to the editor: Park's troubles stem from city's neglect

Selling Congress Square Park makes economic sense ("Developers' goal: Transform Congress Square Plaza," April 24).

click image to enlarge

Congress Square Plaza could be as attractive as other public spaces in Portland if the city hung on to the park and made a commitment to redesigning it, a reader says.

2013 File Photo/Tim Greenway

The city should sell it, allowing Rockbridge Capital to build an event space there. It will increase Portland's tax revenue, add jobs and bring in outsiders to spend money locally.

This makes sense. Why stop there? The city should sell other parks.

Let's revert Post Office Park to a parking lot, allowing more shoppers access to downtown.

The city also should sell Monument Square, letting a corporation build a skyscraper there and adding hundreds of jobs.

Deering Oaks could become a new housing development, boosting the local economy as well as adding to the tax base.

This makes sense, right?

Of course not!

But why are we willing to sell Congress Square Park and not others?

This is because they are cherished, used by the "right" users, better designed and maintained.

Supporters want to sell Congress Square Park because it is neglected, poorly designed, used by the "wrong" users and, largely, unloved.

We think quick fix: Sell it. Plop a Band-Aid building on top. And problem solved!

This is not the solution.

We can elevate Congress Square Park to the same level as our other parks. It needs a redesign, not a building.

In addition, good parks add to local economies, retaining profits in the community, unlike a hotel chain sending theirs back to headquarters.

Nice parks increase adjacent real estate values, adding to the property taxes collected.

Parks bring in new residents, including retirees and the creative class looking for a higher quality of life, not event spaces.

Lastly, parks cause new development.

People like to live near parks, and businesses want to draw in those customers. If well designed and maintained, parks are magnets of wealth -- socially and financially.

Saving and redesigning Congress Square Park makes economic sense!

Clifford Tremblay

Portland

State needs more dentists to serve the underinsured

The Maine Dental Association resists publicly acknowledging there is a problem with dental care in Maine ("Maine Voices: Ask the dentists how to improve access to dental care," April 25).

I was shocked and saddened to learn that one of the leading reasons that uninsured or underinsured people visit an emergency department is dental pain.

These folks are given prescriptions at the emergency department and a recommendation to see a dentist, an option that is neither affordable nor viable.

Many dentists do an incredible and wonderful job serving their patients.

Yet these professionals often do not have capacity to accept new patients from among underserved Mainers, or they lack the desire to financially risk their practice by accepting individuals with no insurance or MaineCare.

The underserved Maine residents are therefore left with toothaches, which can turn into serious health problems.  

One need not wonder why there are so many emergency visits.  

We need more providers in the state who will give adequate low-cost care to individuals who need it the most -- and we know these are mostly young kids.

I for one do not want to see any child in pain because we adults can't get our act together and offer a workable, viable and reasonable solution.

Mainers should stand behind those state legislators and policymakers introducing dental hygiene therapists to the state.

These dental professionals will be able to perform routine procedures so that the dentist's capacity is freed up to handle more complex cases.

From a quality control perspective, dental hygiene therapists will be under a Maine dentist's general supervision, and they will provide care that many residents now do not get.

(Continued on page 2)

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