After watching the Growth and Traffic Committee meeting of March 13 on television, I felt compelled to comment. First and foremost, I am the wife of City Councilor at Large John O’Hara, and these views and comments are expressly my own. Everyone on the committee that met that evening should review the tape just to see how poorly run this meeting was, and the abundance of negativity emulated by some of the committee members and speakers.

If people want to take on council roles, they really need to familiarize themselves with the entire process and Robert’s Rules of Order. It really made me feel very embarrassed for John. To discuss keeping traffic moving at a high rate of speed through Westbrook on one road, to slowing it down via traffic calming on others streets seemed so inappropriate, that I shut the television off. My frustration level, just watching the fiasco, was boiling over; I can’t even begin to imagine that of the administration and Josh Saunders. Personally, I think Wayside Drive could use a little traffic calming – the two or three cars I encounter while on that road could benefit slowing down by way of a traffic light!

I, for one, am very glad that I am not a developer looking to locate in Westbrook. What a shameful message this group sent to potential business development – no way, not Westbrook, too many hoops and hurdles to jump through! Not to mention that we obviously look inept! The thing looming in the back of my mind, and should be in the back of all minds, is the impending residential real estate tax assessment, which is certain to take place soon, not to mention the capital outlay the City will undoubtedly face in the near future to improve dilapidated public infrastructure. If there aren’t steps taken to be a little more development friendly, the homeowners are going to be left footing these bills. It won’t be “Westbrook Our Home,” if we can’t afford to live here!

The request for Maine Department of Transportation to execute, at no cost to the taxpayer, feasibility study for proposed access to these large tracts of land along Wayside Drive, would not prove detrimental to any citizen in this community. As a rule, the more information you have available, and can acquire (especially when it’s free), the better your chances of making an informed decision! The Department of Transportation may have even helped those who seemingly want no economic development in this area by submitting a decline for access!

Josh Saunders successfully obtained a zoning change for his property (after much heated debate) and has been told what is allowed on his property, and is now seeking a feasible

entrance and exit from his property. If I were the developer, good access would definitely mean the difference between building on this site or not! And what will happen if and when the Snyder property on the other side of Wayside Drive comes up for proposed development. After all, that is currently zoned office/ professional. I guess that entrance will have to be via Stroudwater Street (how many years of debate will that encompass)! Access off Wayside Drive would eliminate the potential for this future problem as the intersection lines up very well for both properties!

If property owners have the right to develop, they should also have the right to feasible access to their property. After all, it is their property! It doesn’t belong to any one of those dangerous NIMBY group members, who aren’t told where they can and can’t plant flowers in their own yards!

Pardon my cynicism, but this just wreaks anti-development! There is nothing more frustrating, in my opinion, than attempting to enter a business establishment that is poorly accessible – I would tend not to go there! If it is zoned gateway commercial, then it should be accessible from the gateway. But this is just another obvious ploy and feather in the hat of Westbrook Our Home!

Hopefully, the citizens of Westbrook have elected a take-charge Mayor/CEO who will now pursue this on his own terms with the Department of Transportation, and was even told by one unseasoned councilor at the meeting that he should have done just that a year ago! What a terrible message to send to a mayor who has tried in earnest to be open and forthcoming with information!

That’s what you get Mayor Chuluda for trying to keep everyone informed and in-the-loop, so to speak! And, hopefully, the Department of Transportation will come forth with a positive solution, which is both amicable and feasible for these landowners, as well as the other citizens in Westbrook who

would like to see stabilization in their tax bills and envision Westbrook as being business/developer friendly and more of a destination, rather than the cut-through, old mill-town, which it currently appears to be!

Judy O’Hara

Westbrook


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