Open green space is important

To the editor,

As a South Portland resident who has been directly impacted by development on both sides of my home, I read with interest last week’s article about the proposed moratorium giving the city council the opportunity to consider stricter regulations regarding building permits across the city.

Aside from the motivations for the moratorium cited in the article (the active preservation of open space, the irreversible loss of green space, climate factors, and incompatibility issues with neighboring properties), there is no mention of, or ever any serious consideration given to, the mental and emotional fallout from the loss of open space in our neighborhoods.

It makes a difference to the everyday living experience of neighbors when trees on adjacent lots are sliced down: the sunlight in one’s home is different; the experience of the seasonal changes; a starker landscape is seen from a neighbor’s window. Taking a walk in the neighborhood takes on new meaning when there are more houses and fewer trees.

Realtors and developers will squawk, claiming that this is not a time to cut short projects which would benefit the economy. Yes, we are in an economic crisis with this pandemic, but we are also in a mental and emotional crisis. We are experiencing what psychologists call “ambiguous loss.” People are worn out, frustrated, anxious, and sad. Spending time outside in natural environments is one of the best and proven antidotes to such emotional collapse.

Much emphasis in decision-making regarding building permits seems to be given to the rights of applicants/property owners. We saw the struggle between owners’ rights and community values during the rental property issue in South Portland last year, and we will run up against it here. It was a moral victory that neighbors’ rights tipped the scale toward community values in the rental property issue.

Is anyone else shocked to learn that 500 trees have been lost to development in South Portland in the last nine months? Is the day coming when we have to get ourselves to a designated park area to get a sense of open space? Joni Mitchell said it well: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Emotional well-being is essential. Open green space is important. Trees make a difference. I can’t stop the removal of over 20 trees on my neighbor’s undersized lot so that a four-bedroom house can be built. But I will sorely miss the natural boundary that most of those trees provided, the bright green leaves against the blue sky, and the clacking of the branches as the wind rustled their limbs.

Jeanne Fiorini

South Portland

Candidate is ‘proven leader’

To the editor,

On Labor Day weekend, the American Legion in South Portland put on a lobster roll lunch. If you were not there, you missed a good meal. I ran in to Stephanie Anderson among the people. Now what does that have to do with running for State Senate? Commitment. I asked Stephanie if she would come and she did.

Stephanie was Cumberland County district attorney for 28 years so that attests to her commitment. She is a proven reformer because of the innovative programs she established in the state concerning domestic violence, human trafficking, and drugs. Now, you might say she was just doing her job. She was just doing her job, but she also went the extra mile. Stephanie is a proven leader and has been in leadership roles in several attorney-related organizations.

Stephanie’s priorities are firm, but sensible. She supports small business, sensible response to climate change, continued justice reform, supports investment in education and technical career training, responsible state budgeting and informed reproductive choice.

When we met at the Legion Post, the first thing she asked me was not how much the lobster roll cost , but what was my thought on what the people of Maine were concerned about most in this election cycle. My answer was, jobs. Without jobs there is no income for our city and town and the tax money to fund the many state and local programs. More importantly the whole self-esteem issue. The people of Maine are hardworking and that is in their nature. We need to send someone to Augusta who know what it is like to fight the system and win.

We need to send Stephanie Anderson to Augusta to fight for us like she did in Cumberland County.

Michael R. Pock

South Portland

Experience is essential

To the editor,

Anne Carney is the only candidate for the Maine Senate in District 29 who has a decades-long, decades-deep experience of our community and its values. That long experience is essential to meeting the crises in healthcare, environment, employment and education we now face.

Anne’s commitment to public service is evident in her long record of volunteerism: in contributing to our public school sports and education programs; in leading efforts to conserve and protect our environment; and in providing pro bono legal services for eight years to low-income Mainers facing employment issues.

I’ve known Anne for decades, and I trust that her hope to transition from the State House to the State Senate is a reflection of her commitment to the well-being of the community she has lived in, volunteered in, and represented for over 30 years. Let’s vote to continue her representation of our values and aspirations. Let’s vote for Democratic candidate Anne Carney for state senator.

Georgia Deveres
South Portland

Safety is a shared responsibility

To the editor,

In response to a Sept. 11 letter, expressing concern about cyclists, I wanted to correct information and respond generally. First, the writer states, “These walkways are pedestrian routes. I have always tolerated the bicycles in the interest of supporting outdoor activities.” This is not correct and suggests cyclists are an add on, one to tolerate.

All cyclists don’t ignore walkers. My experience is most are careful, cautious and courteous, signaling when passing and slowing down. I thank them and many thank me when I am biking.

The Greenbelt multi-use path, means walkers, cyclists, skateboarders, roller skaters, wheelchairs and the like are welcome. Everyone is expected to be careful, respectful and responsible. No one is “tolerated.” All transportation that is not gas motorized is welcomed.

Roads are not just for cars, and the Greenbelt (all trails/parks) are not just for walkers. Automobiles are expected to share the road; roads were used by other means of transport long before cars. Drivers should be diligent at crosswalks, allowing pedestrians to cross safely. Let’s keep an open heart to all, no matter how they travel.

There are older portions of the Greenbelt that are narrow, requiring particular diligence. Whether you are on a bicycle, roller blades, skateboard or other means, warning people is helpful: ringing a bell or calling out are two ideas.

As we improve our walkways and sidewalks, we are ensuring handicapped accessibility. Although in most areas, cyclists are not allowed on sidewalks, use is allowed going across the bridge, in exiting Brickhill/Redbank and any place where danger exists (Brown’s Hill), allowing flexible with children. Safety is first.

In these times, we want people outside, enjoying fresh air and our beautiful city. I encourage parents to have kids wear helmets (wear one yourself) and close-toed shoes, whether on a bike, skateboard, roller blades or scooter. I encourage walkers to look and listen as well. We all share a part in the safety of one another.

Rosemarie De Angelis, chair

South Portland Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee