The Portland school department and the architectural firm Harriman held a so-called “community forum” on Nov. 6 to gather input for the renovations to the Reiche School and Community Center. One problem: Most of the community didn’t know about the meeting until it was too late.

When we asked why, we were told that the school department sent notices to people living within 500 feet of the proposed project, a method used by the Planning Board. I find this method unacceptable for a project that will have a lasting impact on the entire community for years to come.

I live 1,320 feet from Reiche. It takes me less than 10 minutes to walk there to lead my neighbors in a weekly yoga practice. But I wasn’t notified about the “community forum.” Neither was anyone from the recreation and public health departments, which have offices in Reiche. Even many who live within the 500-foot radius did not receive the mailing.

The city could have used low- to no-cost channels to notify all residents (email, news releases, the West End Neighborhood Association and other neighborhood groups), saving the city money and mea culpas. But do they really want input? The meeting on Nov. 6 was only 30 minutes long.

I propose that the school department and Harriman make a real effort to gather input from the community in order to create a viable plan. Given the opportunity, we will participate. You’ll be glad we did.

Alice Ruvane


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