In her May 29 Maine Voices column (“With park’s perpetual protection insecure, Portland voters should have final word”), former Mayor Anne Pringle wrote in support of the upcoming referendum that would make it more difficult for our elected leaders to sell or subdivide public space.

Ms. Pringle cites two examples of the loss of public space as justification for her position.

The first occurred in the 1970s, when land along the north edge of Deering Oaks was taken to build Interstate 295. The second occurred in 1974, when land between Tukey’s Bridge and the railroad trestle was taken to build the sewage treatment plant.

Were those decisions in the 1970s correct?

 Interstate 295 today is a vital transportation corridor bringing people and commerce to Portland. Should we tear it out and put the traffic on city streets?

 There are few options for the location of sewage treatment plants – they need to be at the final outfall. Portland’s is sandwiched between two bridges in a place of no public value. Should we tear it out and just let raw sewage flow into the ocean?

Forty years later, it’s clear that the decisions to trade minimal amounts of public space for better transportation and sewage treatment were correct ones.

On June 10, we’re being asked to stop the sale of a portion of Congress Square Plaza to an adjacent hotel. Do we want to stop the development of convention space that will bring visitors to Portland? Do we want to stop the business income, tax revenue and jobs this will provide? Do we want to stop something that will bring people and life back to Congress Square?

Please join me in voting “no” in another decision that history will prove correct.

Wayne W. Duffett


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