Greg Kesich’s June 17 column (“Anti-growth mindset leaves Portland with little to build upon”) paints the progress of Portland’s redevelopment in stark black and white. For him and his backers inside and outside City Hall, every massive development should be approved as is, or the city will stagnate and die.

What nonsense!

Redevelopment of Portland is going on at levels not seen for a century at scales large and small, every day in every neighborhood.

The drumbeat of Bay House and other five- and six-story developments near India Street. New townhouse condos and housing on Munjoy Hill. One hundred thirty-two units approved over Joe’s Smoke Shop. West End Place just completed.

And with more than 130 acres of surface parking lots, Portland has plenty of space for in-fill building at neighborhood scale.

The only projects being challenged – not opposed, just challenged to conform – are those that destroy the character of their neighborhoods because of their huge size. Residents’ groups are springing up because they rightfully fear that city officials will otherwise simply rubber stamp these behemoths. The Planning Board is being called “the Permitting Board.”

That’s why Keep Portland Livable – not an individual, but scores of people willing to testify at Planning Board and City Council meetings, and many hundreds allied with the effort – challenged the original proposal for the midtown development. That out-scale project was revised and has been approved with our acceptance.

You may doubt that the Portland Co. and the Sisters of Mercy convent grounds will be developed by the current developers. We don’t. We just believe they may be shaped more to the community’s liking than the developers and their allies would prefer.

No city remains great while redeveloping without an active citizenry. Apathetic citizens generate official contempt. Thank God Portland has an engaged citizenry.

Timothy Paradis

co-founder, Keep Portland Livable