Election Day is not the only time residents get a chance to say what kind of city they want.

All year long, elected and appointed officials, paid and volunteer, are discussing options and making decisions that impact the future of Portland. They listen to comments and concerns from the public and although they don’t always make everyone happy, they take those comments into consideration as a major factor in the kinds of decisions that get made.

There are fewer ways for citizens to get involved that don’t involve going to meetings, but they do exist.

One of them will be available for the next two weeks.

The city planning department has posted an online survey that will be used to inform an update of the comprehensive plan (http://www.portlandmaine.gov/1579/Comprehensive-Plan-2015).

The comprehensive plan provides a broad guideline that will be used to make decisions about growth and change over the next decade. State law requires periodic updates to make sure that the priorities identified still make sense.


This online survey asks residents for their opinions on what they like about the city and what they would like to see change.

There are questions about neighborhoods, transportation, housing, historic preservation and economic development. It also provides good background information in each of these areas.

The plan will try to anticipate some major events which will change the face of the city. One of them is population growth.

A conservative estimate projects Cumberland County’s population to grow by 44,000 people between 2010 and 2030. If Portland remains home to 25 percent of the county’s population, it would have to grow by 15,000 people, or just under 800 people a year. Where will they go?

Another longterm trend is climate change. Portland residents should be ready for rising sea levels that will threaten the low lying parts of the city, especially the parts of Bayside built on fill. Should the city taxpayers fund improvements to keep the water out of public areas like roads and parks? What about privately owned ones? And if the answer is no, who would be responsible?

The survey is available on-line until Dec. 31, and it is a worthwhile way for interested residents, business owners, and people who work in town or just visit to have their say.

Not everyone can make it to a meeting. The city should keep looking for other ways to reach out and get as much public comment as possible.

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