City Council candidate Mark Gandolfo wants to emphasize planning South Portland’s future. Gandolfo, 41, says planning is key to maintaining quality of life in a city that is almost fully developed.

Gandolfo is challenging incumbent Jim Hughes in District 5.

He favors rewriting the comprehensive plan, a blueprint for anticipating growth and open space needs for the next 20 years.

“A lot of people ask me, ‘What is your vision for the future?’ I don’t have one at this point. That kind of vision needs to be a deliberative process that involves the entire community,” said Gandolfo, who sits on the Planning Board.

Gandolfo wants to update the city’s Web site to make it more “user friendly.”

“It needs to be overhauled,” said Gandolfo, an operations manager at Smithwick and Mariners Insurance Agency in Falmouth. “It should be more interactive and useful to residents.”

Gandolfo also wants the Council have a long-range plan for the properties it owns.

Gandolfo, a retired Coast Guard officer, describes the Council as “a board of directors” that offers direction to the city manager and staff.

With a master plan for buildings, the city will have a better idea how to handle its 2006 purchase of the armory, he said.

Although Gandolfo sat on a citizens’ committee that recommended using the armory for a future City Hall, he has had second thoughts about that group decision in 2007.

Gandolfo said that organizers did not provide critical information, such as renovation costs, a detailed look at structural problems and options for using other buildings. He cautions that the group’s work was nothing more than “brainstorming.”

Gandolfo sees no need to rush to renovate South Portland High School. Gandolfo favors slowing down the process in the difficult economy.

“I don’t want to trivialize the work that has been done, but we need to look at the bigger economic picture,” he said.

Gandolfo sees the future of economic growth as redevelopment. With most land developed, Gandolfo said it’s critical for planners to work with developers to ensure open space, mitigate water pollution and limit the “amount of concrete.”

South Portland City Council – Mark Gandolfo – Sees need for long-range planning

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