Better long-range

planning needed

A few weeks ago I read with both pleasure and dismay regarding the article on revitalizing the city of Westbrook and the possibility of building a new City Hall on either land currently owned by the Foote family or the land now known as “the green space.”

My immediate reaction was pleasure that the administration is working toward revitalizing the downtown area, but when I read the part about locating City Hall there, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My thought was, here we go again -– urban renewal all over again! Putting City Hall in a congested business/commercial zone next to the river is nothing but a quick fix to something that doesn’t need a fix. It was bad enough when the administration was considering putting City Hall in the Westbrook Community Center.

I would like to suggest to the city administration that they continue to pursue the downtown area and try to attract a commercial type business for the Foote property, one that would also be willing to house in their space an affordable, family-style restaurant such as a seafood or steak restaurant. We need to have something in that nice space that would draw people to Westbrook. Imagine enjoying a nice meal and spectacular view.

The “green space” should be left as just that. People are now able to see and appreciate more of the river. I know my husband and I love to ride up there after a large storm to see the raging water and to the amazing sound that it makes while cascading over the falls. Why would anyone consider blocking that area up again? It is an attraction that should be left alone.

The city administrators need to really take a look at long-range planning for the entire length of Main Street. Main Street basically is divided into three sections: 1. From the Portland line to Haskell Street is business/residential; 2. Haskell Street to Stroudwater Street is a mixture of city government property, residence and small business; 3. Stroudwater Street to Yudy’s building is residential business/commercial.

The areas from the Portland line to Haskell Street and the area from Stroudwater Street to Yudy’s are pretty much established. It is the middle section I feel could serve the city in a more useful manner. This area could be called the City Government Zone. Basically, the city has already begun to establish that zone beginning with the Public Safety Building and including Riverbank Park, the Warren League Field, and the storage building next to the field.

In my humble opinion, the perfect site for Westbrook City Hall would be on land directly across from Riverbank Park. I realize that none of that land is available right now for the city to consider purchasing, but it is something to keep in mind for the future. This is where long-range planning comes into effect.

Please consider keeping our current City Hall where it is until a proper site becomes available. If we establish a government zone and keep purchasing property in that zone, we just might have an area on Main Street that we could be very proud of. If we are going to revitalize our city, let’s do it with a lot of thought and not as just a quick fix. We don’t want to be looking at relocating City Hall again in 10 or 15 years. Our future city administrators will thank us for providing them with adequate space for future city government development. Keeping everything in one zone would be progressive thinking and the envy of our surrounding neighboring towns.

Patricia F. Haskell

Westbrook

Weigh in on fireworks law

Currently, there is legislation being brought before the Maine Legislature that would place restrictions on the use of consumer fireworks which became legal in Maine in 2012. One of these bills, LD 111, seeks to repeal the legalization that legalized fireworks. I would like to encourage any resident of Westbrook, Gorham and surrounding areas who would like to see consumer fireworks banned to contact their state legislators to let them know where you stand.

When the current Gorham ordinance was debated, one Town Council member remarked: “The state passes laws and we [town governments] have to deal with them.” A point well-taken. The most effective way to deal with the many difficulties caused by this law is to repeal it.

In Gorham, the ordinance currently allows use on any Saturday of the year. Westbrook has no restrictions. Although the current debate cites the negative impacts on certain individuals, livestock and pets, the over-riding issue is the violation of the reasonable expectation of the peace and quiet that everyone should be able to enjoy no matter where they are in Maine. The economic impact of repealing the law would fall mostly on out-of-state manufacturers.

The loss of relatively few jobs is far outweighed by the positive impact on the majority of Mainers who prefer their nights to be undisturbed by explosions.

Kristy Parke

Gorham


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