I proudly support plans for affordable housing in Westbrook on city-owned surface parking lots. A recent University of New Hampshire poll states that the top three concerns of Mainers are affordable housing, cost of living and homelessness. This housing will be part of the solution to those concerns, and it will be within walking distances to schools, a supermarket, a transportation hub and a city park. Parking spaces will not be lost but be replaced by a free parking garage, which will be closer to some locations and farther from others.

The peninsula in the city of Portland has no unrestricted free parking, whether surface lots or parking garages, yet it still attracts plenty of businesses, tourists, cultural attractions and churches. Free public parking lots don’t help people who grew up in Westbrook continue to live in Westbrook.

In public hearings the character of downtown will be discussed in terms of surface lots and affordable housing. I hope we can give the next generation an affordable and attractive starting place to live and not say, “I’m for affordable housing, just not there.”

Bob Barrett

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