Doubler Header For Civic Minded Individuals Of The Area: (1) Maine State Pier Forums Results and (2) Franklin Street Arterial Design Forum

By Carol McCracken

In the first of yesterdays double header, Bill Needleman, of Portland’s planning office, presented a comprehensive overview of the results of the city’s series of meetings held at Ocean Gateway over the past few months. “It just shows that there are some areas in which we are in agreement and some areas in which we are not in agreement,” said councilor Cheryl Leeman following the council workshop.

Following the formal presentation by Needleman, councilor Leeman suggested that the council be given the same opportunity to define through a similar process just what its priorities for the Maine State Pier are. City manager Joe Gray said that his staff had expressed interest in having the same information and he was pleased that the council agreed. A series of meetings has been set up to continue the discussion of the future of the Maine State Pier. The meetings start in May and continue into June.

In the SECOND half of the double header, over eighty people attended the Franklin Street Arterial Study Group design forum last evening at the Ocean Gateway. The participants were split into 14 tables each with a facilitator. It was the facilitators’ task to elicit from the group its vision for the future of the Franklin Street Arterial. This afternoon between noon and 3:00 p.m. there will be an Open House for members of the public who would like to review for themselves the ideas originating with this “group think” project.

Lucy Gibson, co-owner of Smart Mobility, will start consolidating the ideas of the charrette and put them into conceptual design ideas which will eventually be presented to the community – possibly in June. From there, the concepts will be presented to the city council for their consideration.

Michael J. Bobinsky, Director of Public Services for Portland, said: “It’s all about transportation and integrating all needs in the Franklin Street Arterial. The Arterial carries a lot of transportation. It may be changed by the ability to ride a bike or walk. The intent is not to diminish car transportation over any other kind of transportation. The city recognizes the importance of all modes of transportation.” Bobinsky went on to say that: “What happens to the land is another issue. By summer time, the Committee hopes to come up with two or three corridor alignments to present to the city council.”

Brendan O’Neil, an attorney and Hill resident attended the charrette and said: “I think most of the people at my table were from the east end. They were more easily able to identify what people don’t like about Franklin Street Arterial. It’s harder to figure out what they do what. It’s a dead zone down there. It’s doesn’t exist in the eyes of the rest of the city.”

Tom Farmer, with Terry DeWan & Associates, said: “These charrettes are good ways to consolidate different ideas and the popular ones will rise to the top.”

Markos Miller, co-chair of the committee said, “I think people have been really interested in this for a long time. The city’s focus on this has activated the community’s interest. We can change Franklin Street Arterial in the future for the better.”

So far no one has come up with how this will all be paid for. According to Bobinsky, it could be from grants or future government stimulus funds.