As a person who has very recently relocated to the Portland area, I must say how wonderful a city and state you have. It is so normal here in comparison to many other parts of the country.

But the impression one gathers from driving past downtown Portland is the absolutely god-awful, Stalinesque architecture your eyes are forced to see – witness the University of Southern Maine library!

With the number of proposed downtown projects on the books, I only hope that a board of citizens and architects – an aesthetics board – will be put in place for the sake of people in generations to come. This is what the face of Portland will be to the outside world.

Why not, instead of looking at ugly trenches along 195 and 295, plant tons of native, perennial flowers in these ugly caverns, making them into something beautiful to look at? Then, perhaps, people might think that Maine is a conservationist, aesthetically and progressive island of sanity.

Now, about the virtually unsynchronized and absurdly slow stoplight changes while drivers are burning gasoline … .

Portland, don’t give up hope – you’re the “coolest” city in America (well, except for the weather).

Rob James