Monday, November 17, 2008

City Council Considers Creative Economy Report

Tonight the Portland City Council will vote on orders to establish the Arts District TIF (Tax Increment Financing) to invest in our creative economy. The idea of using TIF funding for arts and cultural purposes is one that I conceived while I was running for a seat on the City Council over two years ago. The West End News published a letter to the editor in a June 2006 in which I wrote that the City should “collaborate with the creative community by granting a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) to the Arts District.”

The orders will establish the new TIF zone will designate a mapped out area that essentially overlays our Arts District, from Longfellow Square to City Hall along Congress Street. As property tax revenue increases in the Arts District, the additional revenue will go into the TIF fund. Revenues in a TIF fund have an increased value because they are sheltered from State and County assessments leading to more spending power. Once the TIF has collected revenue, the City Council can designate a portion of the funds for arts and cultural purposes.

Using TIF funds for arts and cultural purposes is a new economic development tool in the State of Maine. In the recent past, the City of Portland and other cities and towns have used TIF funds for the development of parking garages and for tax breaks for companies, such as UNUM.

After being elected to the Portland City Council, I worked with the League of Young Voters and Representative Herb Adams to pass State Legislation to allow TIF funds to be used for arts and cultural purposes. The Democrats in Augusta liked the idea of supporting the arts community while the Republicans saw the legislation as another opportunity for economic development.

The Creative Economy Steering Committee, with Councilor Cohen and I as Co-Chairs, embraced the Arts District TIF concept for inclusion in the Creative Economy Report to the City Council. The Report calls for the creation of the Creative Portland Corporation, a quasi-municipal organization be formed and funded by revenues from the Arts District TIF. The CPC will use the TIF funds (up to $100,000 per year) and private funds to hire an executive director and pay for expenses necessary to implement the Report according to its mission to grow the creative economy.

The Report also calls for the increase of cultural events, promotion to strengthen the creative economy, and the creation of the Center for the Arts. Live/works space should be incorporated into the Center for the Arts along with space for galleries, performances, offices, and business incubators. The funding to create the Center for the Arts will likely come from private and public sources and should be located in the Arts District according to the Report.

The Finance Committee (Councilors Cohen, Anton, and I) reviewed the Report and drafted the orders and voted to refer the Arts District TIF and other orders to the City Council for passage. Another order was created to allow the City Manager to enter into negotiations with PACA (Portland Arts and Cultural Alliance) to discuss merging PACA with the CPC. Also, an order was drafted to develop a memorandum of understanding with PDD (Portland’s Downtown District) to ensure promotional services and events are coordinated and collaborative.

The creative economy is already important economic driver in Portland. In 2006, the Americans for the Arts found that the direct economic impact of spending by nonprofit arts and cultural audiences in Portland was about five times larger than in regions of similar size ($15.4 Million to $3.9 Million). The study also found that Local Government revenue was five times larger due to the total economic impact of non-profit arts audiences in comparison to regions of similar size ($970,000 to $193,000). In this category, Local Government revenue even exceeded the National Median of $945,000.

The passage of these orders will help Portland grow on its successes by attracting more creative enterprises, helping creative individuals prosper, and strengthening Portland as an arts and cultural destination. Investing in the creative economy is a proven form of economic development in the Portland.

Please attend the meeting tonight at 7pm at City Hall and speak in favor of the passage of Orders 92, 93, and 94 or visit http://www.portlandmaine.gov/council.htm and email your City Councilors.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

DISTRICT 2 ANNUAL MEETING

The City of Portland invites you to the annual District 2 meeting hosted by Councilor Marshall, Monday, Nov 10 at 7pm at the Parkside Neighborhood Center, 85 Grant St. There will be representatives there from each of the City Departments to make announcements and answer any questions or concerns that are raised by residents. This is an opportunity to meet your City Councilors, City employees, and neighbors and discuss the areas of concern in your neighborhood.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

PRESS HERALD

Report urges city to invest in the arts

A committee says creating an agency to attract innovative businesses will pay off for Portland.

By KELLEY BOUCHARD Staff Writer October 2, 2008

A steering committee wants the Portland City Council to start and help fund an agency that would promote creative enterprises and innovative investment in Maine's largest city, according to a report to be released today.

The Creative Economy Steering Committee recommends that the council establish a nonprofit corporation to attract more artists, designers, engineers and other creative people to Portland.

The Creative Portland Corp. would be the driving force in a public-private partnership that would build on the more than $30 million generated by arts and cultural organizations in the city each year.

The 19-page report also recommends that the council establish a Creative Economy Tax-Increment Financing District, where a portion of new property taxes could be used to finance the corporation and its programs.

"This proposal recognizes that Portland's economic success is very closely tied to its quality of life and its culture," said Councilor James Cohen, who convened the city's Creative Economy Summit in May 2006, when he was mayor.

The tax district would mirror the city's Arts District, which runs along Congress Street, between State and Pearl streets. Money generated by the tax district could be used to promote creative enterprises throughout the city, Cohen said.

The steering committee recommends that the council spend $100,000 annually to run the corporation. Additional financing would be sought from private donors, Cohen said.

The steering committee, which Cohen appointed and headed, will release the report at 1 p.m. today at the Portland Stage Company, 25 Forest Ave. It will be posted on the city's Web site at www.portlandmaine.gov/creativeconomy.

The council will hold a workshop on the report at 5 p.m. Monday at City Hall. Cohen said he hopes the council will act on the steering committee's recommendations this fall.

The 17-member steering committee represented a variety of creative enterprises in Portland, including cultural organizations, specialty manufacturers, architectural firms, marketing companies, colleges and the media.

Over two years and many meetings, the committee identified a variety of strategies to help expand the city's creative economy, which is fueled by people whose skills allow them to live where they choose.

The Creative Portland Corp. would be a subsidiary of city government, Cohen said. It would be staffed by an executive administrator and an assistant and overseen by a 17-member governing board appointed by the council.

The corporation would be responsible for marketing Portland's creative economy and helping to develop innovative businesses through a low-interest loan fund, said Nicole Clegg, city spokeswoman.

The corporation also would be charged with promoting year-round economic vitality in the city by developing new cultural events, exploring the creation of a center for the arts and expanding the Arts District.

"These forward thinking policies will strengthen Portland as an arts and cultural destination," said Councilor David Marshall, an artist who was vice chairman of the steering committee.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at kbouchard@pressherald.com
US News and World Report

http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/best-places-to-retire/2008/09/18/best-healthy-places-to-retire-portland-maine.html

Best Healthy Places to Retire: Portland, Maine

You can escape under sail off the New England coast—and still return for dinner

Posted September 18, 2008

Before he retired, Sam Saltonstall, now 67, was a Connecticut schoolteacher. At least, that was his day job. But as he soon as he could get out of the classroom, Saltonstall and wife, Linda, 63, would always head for open waters. So, given their love for sailing, it was only natural that the couple looked to the New England coast for the perfect place to retire. It took them some time.
Portland's Maplewood Dance Center lures ballroom fans like Kathy Sheldon.
Portland's Maplewood Dance Center lures ballroom fans like Kathy Sheldon.
(Charlie Archambault for USN&WR)
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While they were still working, they explored the coasts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. It was in Portsmouth, N.H., that they were tipped off to Portland. Their bed-and-breakfast host, overhearing their discussion about retirement heaven, whispered: "Don't tell anyone, but we're selling the inn and moving to Peaks Island."

Peaks Island is technically a Portland neighborhood—despite the 12-minute ferry ride it takes to get there. It's an idyllic spot with 1,000 year-round residents, one small grocery store, a branch library, and few cars. Like many island residents, Saltonstall is loath to let the world know about Peaks. "Can't you just say I live on an island in Casco Bay?" he asks.

Like more and more retirees, Saltonstall cares about being fit, and his life on Peaks and in Portland proper (he and Linda moved to the city in 2002 before decamping to the island last year) has made it easy to exercise. In the spring, summer, and fall, everything about Portland—the close-in beaches, Casco Bay's 200-plus islands, nearby mountains, and miles of hiking and biking trails—lures people outdoors. On the mainland, residents and visitors alike walk, bike, and cross-country ski Portland's abundant downtown parks and an unusually well-developed urban trail system; hiking on the eastern and western "Proms," trails that lead to the shore on both sides of this city built on a peninsula, is a popular pastime.

Green living. Though Saltonstall calls himself a "die-hard environmentalist," his effort to live carless isn't unusual in Portland, which Organic Gardening magazine recently named one of the greenest cities in the nation. Portland residents pride themselves on their compact, walkable city, which, like Boston some 100 miles to the south, was built before the automobile. For local travel, Portland runs a well-regarded public transit system. To go farther afield, more and more residents rely on Amtrak's Downeaster route to Boston. And a nonprofit called Portland Green Streets encourages people to leave their cars at home on the last Friday of each month. "People are finding ways of living their lives without the automobile and finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint," says Dave Marshall, an artist and Portland city councilor. Barbara Doughty, 65, moved here from Des Moines five years ago with her husband. She finds both exercise and companionship at Lifeline, an affordable, comprehensive wellness program offered by the University of Southern Maine. "The people who work out here are great," she says, panting as she pedals an exercise bike. There are more than 60 offerings—from gyms to yoga to Pilates—within 5 miles of the university, says fitness manager Peter Allen.

Of course, a healthy city doesn't just tend to the body—it also tends to the heart and mind. This fall, nearly a thousand people 50 and over have joined the University of Southern Maine's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which offers academic courses to seniors for a tiny fee. And Doughty enthuses about Portland's art museum, orchestra, and two repertory theaters. "Portland," says Doughty, "is like Boston without the hassles."

But if it's up to Sam Saltonstall, all of the new retirees will head south to that other walkable Yankee city. Please.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

PRESS HERALD

http://news.mainetoday.com/updates/033650.html

Portland picks "crop circle" for skate park plan
By Giselle Goodman October 01, 2008 09:33 AM

PORTLAND -- And the winner is ... crop circle!

The City of Portland this morning announced the winning design for the new skateboard and bike park that will be located at the Dougherty Field Complex.

Design number three, also known as the "crop circle" design, received overwhelming support from the voting public. Want to see it? Click here.

"It is exciting to see the public embrace an innovative design for the Portland Skatepark," stated Councilor Dave Marshall. "The "crop circle" design is our key to secure grant-funding in pursuit of our fundraising goal."

But picking out a design is only one step in the process. The committee is continuing its fund raising efforts, including its "Buy A Brick" program to meet the goal of $325,000. Visit the City of Portland to learn more about how to support the project.

Copyright 2008 Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Public Safety Meeting to Discuss Crime Trends and Safety Tips

What: City Councilor Dave Marshall and representatives from the Portland Police Department invite the public to a Public Safety Committee meeting later this month. Acting Police Chief Joe Loughlin will give a presentation outlining recent crime trends throughout the city and will provide safety tips and actions steps for residents to utilize in the effort to fight crime. Public Comment will be taken and questions will be answered.

When: Tuesday, October 14, 2008

5:30 PM

Where: Council Chambers City Hall, Portland
DISTRICT 2 CDBG MEETING

The City of Portland receives approximately $2.1 million annually of federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for urban planning, development and social service needs in Portland Districts 1, 2 and 3. City Councilor Dave Marshall is seeking input and feedback from residents about CDBG funding at work in their community at a series of public meetings next month. Councilor Marshall and city staff will also provide an update on the work underway by the CDBG Task Force. The CDBG Task Force has been charged with reviewing current allocations of CDBG funds and making recommendations for priorities on how to use of these funds in the future.

District 2 Meeting (West End, Parkside, and St. John Valley)
Hosted by Councilor Dave Marshall
October 2 at 6:30 PM
Reiche Community Center, 166 Brackett Street

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Portland Announces Façade Improvement Program

9/23/2008 - NEWS ADVISORY
City of Portland
389 Congress Street
Portland, Maine 04101
www.portlandmaine.gov
CONTACT: Nicole Clegg, 207-756-8173, 207-272-4477 (cell) nicoleclegg@portlandmaine.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2008

Portland Announces Façade Improvement Program
Grants offered to improve storefronts available for businesses and properties located on Congress Street

What: The City of Portland’s Economic Development Division announces a new grant program for businesses and properties located along Congress Street between Monument Square and Longfellow Square. The program offers grants and architectural assistance to restore or renovate commercial storefronts and replace deteriorated or poor quality commercial signs and awnings. Grants must be matched be an equal investment in private funds.

The Façade Improvement Program offers grants of up to $20,000 for individual storefronts and up to $2,000 for signs and awnings. The program funded by the federal Community Development Block grants will cap out at $84,000 and therefore, priority will be placed upon applications that will have the greatest impact on enhancing the streetscape. Grant applications are due by November 7, 2008.

For more information about the program, visit the city’s website at Portland Facade Improvement Program.

Who: City staff from Economic Development, Historic Preservation and Community Development as well as the program architect John Whipple.

"The city is pleased to offer this grant opportunity to business and property owners as a tool to help strengthen the revitalization of downtown Congress Street,” stated City Manager Joe Gray. “Portland's program is modeled on successful facade improvement programs in Maine and throughout the U.S. One key to their success is providing sufficient incentives to spark increased private investment in the renaissance of downtowns.”

When: Monday, October 6, 2008
5:30 PM

Where: City Hall - Room 24
Portland
Portland In A Snap

http://www.mainetoday.com/blogs/inasnap/033388.html

September 24, 2008
Gettin' artsy at the market

artdavemarshall.JPG
Not only is the Portland Farmers' Market the place to score the best tasting eats, it's also a prime spot for scoping out the local artistic talent. One artist you can always count on seeing at the market is David Marshall, who's at the far left in the above photo. His neon-colored works depict Portland street scenes and local landscapes. And not only is he a DAM fine artist, but he's also a city councilor. Which means should you want to gripe about city government, he's right there at the market ready to lend an ear.

Here are a few other artists you're likely to run into at the market:

funkydesigns.JPG
Paula Collier runs Funky Designs with her daughter Katherine Evans. Today she had some really cool found object pendants that she tells me have been a hot item.

jeffreelerner.JPG
Jeffree Lerner paints these fun panels that have a mystical, tribal feel.

wilderdesigns.JPG
Kimberly Wilder (who is camera shy) runs Wilder Designs and creates lovely necklaces and bracelets with a primary focus on pearls and semi-precious stones.

I'm so thankful for all these creative people who make Portland a more interesting city just by setting up shop on the street.
Posted by Avery Yale Kamila at 12:57 PM

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/09/08/eco.cruise.ap/index.html?eref=rss_latest

Cruise lines change course to cut fuel

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- When the 1,020-foot Explorer of the Seas cruises through North Atlantic waters next year, it'll spend more time off the coast of New England and less time near Canadian shores, and it's not because of better vistas.
Royal Caribbean's Majesty Of The Seas, one of the ships charting a new course to save on fuel costs.

Royal Caribbean's Majesty Of The Seas, one of the ships charting a new course to save on fuel costs.

Royal Caribbean International and other cruise lines have begun charting a new course in search of routes that eat up less fuel. Already one of the industry's biggest costs, record fuel prices have cut heavily into the bottom line.

The impact of shifting itineraries will certainly have implications beyond the bottom line of cruise operators, creating winners and losers in port towns all along the way.

When cruise ships pull into Maine's Bar Harbor, passengers spend an average of $105 each while ashore, according to a 2002 University of Maine study.

Explorer of the Seas can carry more than 3,000 passengers.

A ship even half that size could mean nearly $160,000 per visit. That means big money in Portland, which expects more than 30 visits next year from ships that can carry between 1,000 and 3,000 passengers.

While Portland stands to reap big rewards from the itinerary changes, port cities along Canada's Atlantic coast could be on the losing end.

Canada's Atlantic ports saw a 33 percent jump in cruise ship visits between 2000 and 2007, according to the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association.

"It's disappointing to be losing a bit of business, but we realize that cruise lines have to make decisions based on best-business practices," said Betty MacMillan, vice chairwoman of Atlantic Canada Cruise Association and business development manager of the port of Saint John, New Brunswick.

Royal Caribbean International changed the fall itinerary for the Explorer of the Seas along its northern route next year, shortening the distance between ports. Rather than sail from New Jersey to Quebec City and back, the ship will add stops in New England and go no farther than Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Fuel consumption was the primary reason, said Vice President Diana Block.

"You have to look at where the biggest benefit is financially with the least impact on the guests," she said.

Ships' fuel bills on the rise

Annual fuel bills for cruise lines can add up to hundreds of millions of dollars and their ships can gobble up tens of thousands of gallons of fuel on any given cruise. The price of intermediate fuel oil, which most cruise ships use, has risen in tandem with crude oil.

Many cruise lines have added fuel surcharges to passenger bills, but energy costs continue to cut into profits and squeeze margins.

Cruise lines have also begun using energy-efficient light bulbs and new window coatings that reflect the heat from the sun to keep rooms cooler. They've also been using new hull paint that reduces a ship's drag in the water.

And increasingly, cruise lines are altering itineraries so ships can slow down and reduce their travel distances, said Lanie Fagan, spokeswoman for the Cruise Line International Association. Carnival Corp., Norwegian Cruise Line and others have said high fuel costs are a factor in new routes.

"While it is paramount to offer a cruise itinerary that a guest wants to sail, the design and sequence of that itinerary can be evaluated to minimize the distance between ports of call and the speed necessary to accomplish that itinerary," Fagan said.

In many cases, passengers will barely notice the difference.

Besides changing port calls on some routes, Royal Caribbean is reviewing its departure and arrival. In some cases, ships are leaving port half an hour earlier at night or arriving half an hour later in the morning -- allowing ships to travel at slower speeds between ports.

Go slow, save money

Cutting speed cuts costs. For example, going 23 knots will consume twice as much fuel as going 15 knots for the new Solstice class of ship being launched this year by Celebrity Cruises, said John Krousouloudis, senior vice president for marine operations.

Even as cruise lines watched fuel prices ratchet up costs, some port cities had already seen an opportunity.

In Maine, a consortium that promotes Portland as a cruise ship destination is using high fuel costs as part of its marketing strategy.

Last fall, Discover Portland & Beyond Executive Director Sandra Needham met with half a dozen cruise ship companies in south Florida. She presented them with some mock itineraries for their ships detailing how much money they could save in fuel costs if they included Portland on certain routes.

Besides touting southern Maine's attractions, Needham wanted to show cruise line executives how having port calls relatively close together could save them money.

By stopping at ports that are relatively close together, the ships could cruise at speeds of 12 knots or so rather than higher fuel-guzzling speeds, she said. Her itineraries showed that a few tweaks here and there could save cruise lines between $40,000 and $100,000 a week in fuel alone -- and that was ten months ago, when fuel prices were lower.

She thinks the high price of fuel is one reason cruise lines have committed to bringing large ships, those with over 1,000 passengers, to Portland 34 times next year, up from 24 stops this year.
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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tap Water Not Bottled Water Says Portland

Maine Video Activist Network Production
Take Back the Tap Initiative
August 20, 2008

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM_r70m-hZM



RESOLUTION TO PROTECT AMERICA'S WATER:

CREATING A TRUST FUND TO KEEP OUR WATER CLEAN AND SAFE


WHEREAS, many of our nation's water pipes and sewers were installed in the early part of the 20th century, some as far back as the Civil War; and

WHEREAS, as water systems age and population grows, more and more leaks develop and sewage overflows into our streams, rivers, lakes and ocean, creating serious public health hazards; and

WHEREAS, public health agencies issued more than 20,000 warnings against swimming at beaches on U.S. coasts in 2005, and a majority of beach closings are due to sewage overflows and malfunctioning sewage plants; and

WHEREAS, the National Research Council recently warned that we should expect more water-borne disease outbreaks if there are not "substantial investments" made to improve our water pipes and systems; and

WHEREAS, there is currently a shortfall of more than $22 billion per year between the funds available and what is needed to keep water safe for human and environmental health; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has cut the main source of funding for clean water year after year; and

WHEREAS, the spirit of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act are threatened by lack of funding for water infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, according to a recent poll, nine out of ten Americans believe that clean and safe water is a national priority that deserves federal investment; and

WHEREAS, there are federal trust funds for other major national investment needs like highways and airports, yet the federal government has yet to establish a trust fund to protect something all people need to survive: water; and

WHEREAS, Water is a public trust and it's time for a trust fund that protects our water and keeps it clean and safe;


NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the City of Portland, Maine endorses a trust fund for clean and safe water based on the following principles:

* Pollution prevention and drinking water source protection;

* Water conservation by the largest water users, including agriculture and industry;


* Public participation and accountability for public officials;


* Access to affordable water;


* Public funds for public utilities;


* Environmentally sound use of our water resources; a trust fund will not subsidize

sprawl;


* Developing and implementing innovative, environmentally sustainable infrastructure,

appropriate for local conditions; and


* Appropriate fees for industries that pollute our water.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this Resolution shall be sent to each of the members of the Maine Congressional delegation.

Monday, August 18, 2008

CDBG Annual Allocation Committee

The City of Portland receives approximately $2.1 million from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) each year. The three primary objectives of the CDBG program are 1) activities that benefit low to moderate income persons, 2) activities to prevent or eliminate slum or blighted areas, or 3) activities meeting an urgent community development need.

The City of Portland is looking for a diverse group of fair minded and analytical individuals to serve on the Annual Allocation Committee. The Committee will be expected to thoroughly review and score each funding application based upon identified priorities and agreed upon scoring criteria. As a result of deliberation and scoring, the committee will make recommendations for resource allocations to the City Manager and to the City Council, both in writing and in person at a scheduled Council Meeting. This committee replaces the traditional role of the City Manager's Policy Advisory Committee (CMPAC).

The CDBG program has traditionally funded public infrastructure improvements to city parks, sidewalks, and sewers, housing rehabilitation or home-buying programs, energy efficiency programs, building inspections, historic preservation, planning, economic development, rehabilitation of buildings for non-profit organizations, and social services programs.

You are probably familiar with some of the projects and programs that have been funded with CDBG in the City of Portland, including: Deering Oaks... Eastern & Western Promenade ... playgrounds at Reiche and East End Community School ... Portland Observatory ... Maine Irish Heritage Center and St. Lawrence Performing Arts Center ... soup kitchens ... shelters ... youth programs ... day care providers ... elder programs ... neighborhood services, plus many more.

The Committee will be established in the Fall of 2008 and begin reviewing applications in January 2009. Recommendations will go to the City Manager at the end of February and be presented to the City Council in March 2009.

There are seven positions available, members will be appointed to one to three year terms.


Additional information is available in the City Clerk's office, on the City's website at www.portlandmaine.gov or at 874-8677. Deadline for submissions August 29, 2008. Please send a resume and cover letter to Appointments Committee Chairman, c/o Linda C. Cohen, City Clerk, 389 Congress Street, Portland ME 04101 or lcc@portlandmaine.gov. Applicants will be contacted for interviews.


~Feel free to forward this email or post the attachment.~

For more information about the CDBG Program go to:
http://www.portlandmaine.gov/planning/commdev.asp

For more information about the CDBG Priority Task Force go to:
http://www.portlandmaine.gov/cdbgpriority.htm

For more information about the HCD Task Force go to:
http://www.portlandmaine.gov/hcdtaskforce.htm

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

I apologize if you receive this more than once.


Amy Grommes Pulaski
Housing & Community Development Program Manager
389 Congress St. Rm 312
Portland, ME 04101
207.874.8731 phone
207.874-8949 fax

Monday, July 28, 2008

PRESS HERALD

Group wonders if waterfront is working

Developers invite wharf owners to discuss whether more non-marine revenue is needed for pier repairs.

By JOHN RICHARDSON, Staff Writer July 28, 2008

A small group of developers is hoping to organize the city's wharf owners in support of more commercial activity on the Portland waterfront.

The Portland Waterfront Preservation Coalition, as the group is called, has invited the central waterfront pier owners to an introductory meeting Tuesday. The organizers include Ronald Ward and Robert Baldacci, both of whom were part of the Ocean Properties team that lost its bid to develop the Maine State Pier, and David Cohan, a former city employee who is now working as a development consultant with Baldacci.

The organizers are not pitching any specific developments or changes in the city's restrictive waterfront zoning and said it will be up to the property owners to decide whether to move forward and approach the city. But, they said, allowing "appropriate and rational development" in the city's core waterfront will pay for expensive maintenance and repairs of the city's aging piers.

"We do feel like this is the right time to take a real hard look at this," said Baldacci, brother of Gov. John Baldacci. "We're not suggesting it's time to put a wall of condos on the waterfront. It's about preserving the waterfront and preserving the working waterfront."

When Ocean Properties lost out on the Maine State Pier, Baldacci said that partnership would continue to look at other opportunities on the waterfront. But he said Friday that the coalition initiative is not related to any development plans.

"We don't have any agenda or any specific projects in mind at this time," he said. "We see the need."

The embryonic coalition is already generating curiosity, and some skepticism.

David Marshall, a Portland city councilor, said the group's new name – and its use of the word "preservation" – doesn't disguise its interests.

"If it looks a like a development team and it sounds like a development team, it's still a development team," Marshall said.

He said the city's waterfront debate is alive and healthy despite a zoning update two years ago that maintained a balance of uses. "The great thing about the central waterfront zone is it is mixed-use," with offices as well as fishing boats and processors, he said.

Waterfront development has been a touchy issue in Portland for decades. A 1993 referendum imposed restrictive zoning to protect the fishing industry and other marine businesses that rely on access to the water. Changes two years ago provided slightly more flexibility for pier owners who wanted more commercial opportunities.

In general, pier owners must reserve the first floor of buildings for marine-related uses, while upper floors can be for more lucrative non-marine uses such as professional offices.

Cohan, a Peaks Islander who managed waterfront properties for the city until about four years ago, said the coalition's initiative grew out of conversations about the crumbling state of the city's piers and the need for more revenue to pay for repairs.

"Coming in from Peaks Island, you can see that many of the piers have concrete barriers so that cars and people can't walk out to the end because they are not safe," he said. "If people just say, 'We like our waterfront the way it is,' 10 years from now it's not going to be the way it is."

Commercial development such as restaurants or coffee shops could help maintain the piers for fishermen to use, he said.

"If you assume you have to allow for some additional use on the piers to bring in revenue, the question is, what is the appropriate level to keep the integrity of the wharf," he said.

Kenneth MacGowan, owner of Custom House Wharf, said he relies on revenues from the non-marine tenants to maintain his wharf, parts of which were recently closed by the city because of structural problems.

"I've invested close to $200,000 in the last six months or so. Piers are an expensive thing," he said.

MacGowan said he planned to go to the meeting Tuesday to hear about the coalition's plans, but that he doesn't necessarily want zoning opened up for more development or non-marine uses. He's more upset that the city gave itself an advantage by allowing extensive commercial development on the publicly owned Maine State Pier and not on privately owned piers.

Charlie Poole, owner of Union Wharf, said he recently spent $10,000 just to replace five pilings at the pier. "I'm the first one to say those buildings need to work all the time if we're going to have a working waterfront. It's the upper floors that are subsidizing the" berths for the fishing industry, he said.

Poole said he's curious and will likely attend the meeting Tuesday. "If somebody's got an idea, it's important to listen to it," he said.

But, Poole said, the port's Waterfront Alliance, of which he's a member, has already been advising the city on development, zoning and working waterfront issues for more than 20 years. It helped develop the changes two years ago.

"We're all scratching our heads," he said.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@pressherald.com

Monday, July 21, 2008

City of Portland

Volunteer Opportunities

Board and Commissions

Board of Appeals – 3 positions

Responsibilities: Assists in the administration of the City’s Zoning ordinance by reviewing decisions of the Building Inspector, approving conditional uses and granting variances. The Board functions in a quasi-judicial capacity and members must be able to hold public hearings, make findings of fact and conclusions of law based upon applicable state and local zoning laws, and issue written decisions setting forth their findings and conclusions.

Board of Assessment Review – 2 positions

Responsibilities: The Board has power to grant property tax abatements pursuant to state law and to determine the tax exempt status of real and personal property. It functions in a quasi- judicial capacity and members must be able to hold public hearings, make findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with state law, and issue written decisions setting forth their findings and conclusions.

Qualifications: Members need the background necessary to be able to determine the value of real and personal property. Members should be familiar with the several geographical areas of the City, e.g. the waterfront, downtown, Munjoy Hill, Deering, etc.

Civil Service Commission – 2 positions

The Employment Subcommittee has three Commissioners and one alternate. The Employment Subcommittee approves written examinations for police and fire Civil Service testing and other elements of the testing process such as fitness and medical and job suitability exams, participates in oral interviews with candidates, and may hold hearings on discipline cases.

Qualifications: A resident of Portland and a person of good moral character. Although a familiarity with employment practices and the legal process would be helpful, they are not required. What is necessary is a desire to be involved in a critical but background role, a capacity for objective judgments, and good communication skills.

Disqualifications: Anyone who is or has been a City employee or City Councilor or anyone who is a relative of a present member of the Police or Fire departments.

Downtown Portland Corporation – 6 positions

Responsibilities: Institute economic development programs in the Portland area to insure compliance to City’s goals, objectives and requirements. Review loan and underwriting applications for financing programs.

Qualifications: Some or all of the following experience is required: commercial financing, small business operations, commercial real estate, marketing, and have an interest or be active in economic development. Residency in Portland not required.

Fair Hearing Officer – 2 positions

Responsibilities: Review any dissatisfaction stemming from any action concerning applicants for general assistance. Decisions must be in accordance with applicable State Laws and City Ordinances. The Fair Hearing Officer is required to render a written decision regarding the outcome of a hearing within five working days.

Qualifications: Ability to conduct hearings with a five-day notice.

Ability to be fair, impartial, unbiased, and have no personal or financial interest, direct or indirect, in the hearing or its outcome. The Fair Hearing Officer is scheduled to attend hearings on an as-needed basis.

Friends of the Parks – 2 positions

This Commission serves as an advisory group to help promote parks and recreation in the City. Meets monthly with Director of Public Services / Parks and Open Space Manager to review projects, proposals and receive citizen input to provide recommendations to the Director of Public Services and the City Council.

Harbor Commission – 1 position

Responsibilities: Reviews construction plans. Protects the rights of harbor users.

Qualifications: Familiarity with Portland Harbor and Casco Bay and an interest in its growth. Capacity to become familiar with issues such as vessel access rights; coastal zone management conflicts and other aspects of marine law and marine engineering. Fair and objective reasoning skills. Good communication skills.

Historic Preservation – 2 positions

Responsibilities: The Historic Preservation Board has jurisdiction to review and approve applications for a Certificate of Appropriateness for exterior alterations, site improvements and new construction affecting Portland’s designated landmarks, buildings and sites within historic districts and historic landscape districts. The Board also makes recommendations to the Planning Board and City Council concerning amendments to the historic preservation ordinance and the designation of additional landmarks, historic districts, and historic landscape districts.

Qualifications: Members shall have demonstrated interest, knowledge, ability, experience, or expertise in restoration, rehabilitation, or neighborhood conservation or revitalization and shall be residents of the City of Portland.

Terms: Members are appointed for terms of 3 years and may serve a maximum of three consecutive terms.

Meetings: The Historic Preservation Board meets on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month at 5:00.

Landbank – 2 positions

The Land Bank Commission is responsible for identifying and protecting open space resources within the City of Portland. The Commission seeks to preserve a balance between development and conservation of open space important for wildlife, ecological, environmental, scenic or outdoor recreational values. The Commission responsibilities include: working for the acquisition and conservation of open space within the City; recommending to the City Council on a priority basis acquisition or conservation of significant properties; and the pursuit of gifts and funds from private and public sources for the acquisition of open space as approved by the City Council. The Commission has developed an inventory of open space resources within the City. It is engaged in an ongoing effort to proactively protect properties from development through easement, deed restriction, or acquisition.

Responsibilities: Pursue funding resources for the acquisition of open space; create an inventory of

open space property in the city and make recommendations for the protection and/or acquisition of open space that is environmentally significant.

Meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 5:00 P.M.


Portland Fish Exchange A – 2 position

Portland Fish Exchange B – 1 position

Portland Fish Exchange C – 1 position

Additional information is available in the City Clerk’s office, on the City’s website at www.portlandmaine.gov or at 874-8677. Deadline for submission is August 1, 2008. Please send a resume and cover letter to Appointments Committee Chairman, c/o Linda C. Cohen, City Clerk, 389 Congress Street, Portland ME 04101 or lcc@portlandmaine.gov. Applicants will be contacted for interviews.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

PRESS HERALD

Proposal would delay closing polling places

Two Portland councilors also want to form a citizen advisory committee to explore the issue.

By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Staff Writer July 18, 2008

Portland officials will consider delaying a controversial plan to reduce the number of polling places from 16 to six after more than 1,500 voters signed a petition against the change.

City Councilors James Cohen and David Marshall said Thursday that they will offer a proposal to the council on Monday that calls for keeping 16 polling places through the November presidential election.

They also want to establish a citizen advisory committee to recommend how polling places could be reduced in the future, while at the same time preserving voter access and keeping an equal number of polling sites in each district.

Cohen and Marshall hope the council will agree to put their proposal on the November ballot. It would compete with a referendum sought by Save Our Neighborhood Polling Places, the group that circulated the petition to block the reduction.

"We need to have a more thorough discussion of the issue and allow the voters to have a say in how we can continue to provide equity and access in our polling places," Marshall said.

The council approved a municipal budget in May that called for reducing the number of polling places to six, in part to save $12,000 to $15,000 per election.

Opponents of the plan say it will reduce voters' access, increase lines at the polls and discourage some people from voting, especially low-income voters who don't have cars.

They're particularly concerned about the effect on voter turnout in November's presidential election.

On Monday, the council is expected to schedule an Aug. 18 public hearing on a proposed ordinance, sought by citizen petition, that would require the city to keep 16 polling places for all state and federal elections.

Under the ordinance, the council would be able to consolidate polling places only for local elections when voter turnout is expected to be unusually small. The council can either approve the ordinance as written or send it to referendum in November.

Cohen and Marshall said there are good reasons why some reduction in the number of polling places is necessary. The number of people voting by absentee ballot is growing, poll workers are increasingly difficult to hire and the city has no money to spare in a budget that eliminated 93 municipal jobs this year.

Opponents of the planned reduction said they're glad Cohen and Marshall are taking action, especially regarding the presidential election.

"They're hearing what the people of Portland are saying and they're responding," said Ben Chipman, an organizer of Save Our Neighborhood Polling Places.

Chipman said he believes the city should keep 16 polling places, but he would be open to having a minimum of two polling places in each mainland district if that was the recommendation of the advisory committee.

Controversy over the reduction plan surfaced late in this year's budget deliberations.

Under the plan, each of the city's five voting districts on the mainland would have one polling place. Now, districts 1 and 2 have two polling places each; districts 3, 4 and 5 have three each.

The plan kept a polling place on Peaks Island but eliminated polling places on Cliff and Great Diamond islands, to save about $2,500 per election. Councilors Marshall and Kevin Donoghue led an effort to keep polling places on Cliff and Great Diamond, but it failed.

Ultimately, the council unanimously approved a $185 million budget that included the poll-reduction plan.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com
PRESS HERALD

Cohen won't seek third term on council

Known for his leadership on the finance panel, he plans to focus on his law practice and family.

By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Staff Writer July 18, 2008

Portland City Councilor James Cohen, who led the council's effort to grapple with troubled school finances over the past two years, said Thursday that he won't seek a third term in November.

Cohen said he plans to refocus his priorities on his law practice and his family. His wife, Joan, is seeking the District 113 seat in the Maine House of Representatives.

"It's the right decision for my family at this time," said Cohen, who has two boys, ages 8 and 12. "I'm certainly going to miss working with the city and on behalf of my constituents. I want to stay active in the community, but I want to pick my spots."

Now in his sixth year on the council, Cohen has been chairman of the finance committee for two years. In that role, he pressed school officials to provide more detailed information during annual budget reviews, especially after a $2 million deficit came to light last year.

The school superintendent and finance director resigned last summer.

This year, he oversaw preparation of a city budget for fiscal 2009 that eliminated 93 municipal jobs in anticipation of cost increases and revenue shortfalls in the coming months.

"His leadership on the finance committee has been invaluable," said Councilor David Marshall, a finance committee member. "We agree on some things and disagree on others, but he always gives me my chance to participate, and when the issue's over, he moves on."

Marshall described Cohen as professional and thoughtful and lauded his efforts to promote economic development through creative industries and forward-thinking environmental and transportation policies.

Cohen, who is a partner with Verrill Dana in Portland, said he plans to expand his practice as a utilities lobbyist and government-relations specialist to include community mediation. He received a certificate in mediation in March from the University of Southern Maine.

John Coyne, who has been chairman of the Portland School Committee for two years and is up for re-election in November, said Thursday that he plans to run for Cohen's District 5 seat on the council. Coyne, of Saugus Street, and Naomi Mermin, of Madeline Street, have taken out nomination papers to run for the seat.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

PRESS HERALD

Editorials

Transportation planning grows more challenging

The Maine Turnpike Authority and other transportation officials have to rethink plans.

July 17, 2008

Economists call it "rationality," and they often puzzle over instances when it doesn't work as expected, but the theory appears spot on when it comes to driving habits and the price of gas.

Which is to say that people are reacting to higher fuel costs exactly as one might expect: They're driving less.

That's good in the sense that it will temper future increases in fuel costs and mean less pollution from vehicle exhaust, but for state transportation officials, it spells trouble.

The impact of changing habits can be easily seen when it comes to the Maine Turnpike, where data on traffic volumes is readily available. But what's playing out for the Maine Turnpike Authority is also affecting the state Department of Transportation.

Turnpike traffic was down more than 4 percent last month, year-over-year, and it's down 1.27 percent for the year. That's a big change. The turnpike and the authority that runs it has been built on the assumption that demand for its services would steadily increase.

But with falling traffic comes falling toll revenue, about $546,000 less for this year over last and well below the 2.5 percent increase that had been projected. That, of course, means some belt-tightening for the authority this year, but as Executive Director Paul Violette is well aware, the trend has long-term implications for transportation planning.

"We have a shift in the paradigm here," he says. That shift could translate directly into putting off turnpike expansion projects, something Violette says his board will be discussing in coming months.

Already, a widening of the turnpike north of the I-295 interchange has been delayed from 2010 to 2015, and Violette says that project and others could be further delayed if fuel prices stay high and people drive less. "Some of the things we've been looking at could get pushed beyond our 10-year planning window," he says.

It is, no doubt, difficult to plan with energy markets in flux and sweeping policy initiatives dominating the national debate. But taking a second look at plans is exactly what the turnpike authority should be doing.

The same holds true for the DOT and Augusta lawmakers. A fall-off in gas-tax revenues means tight road budgets.

The tricky part is that no matter how many cars are on the road, the snow still has to be cleared and old bridges need to be replaced and roads repaved. Look for transportation planning to be a major challenge in Augusta in 2009.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Low Interest Loans for Energy Efficiency Upgrades Available

$325,000 available through City of Portland's Division of Housing & Neighborhood Services for qualifying homes

PORTLAND, Maine - The City of Portland announces the availability of low interest loans for Portland home owners for energy efficient renovations. The Owner-Occupied Residential Rehabilitation Program offers loans of up to $15,000 to be paid over a period of up to twenty years. Interest rates range from zero to three percent and can be forgiven in certain circumstances. Income eligibility ranges from $38,200 for an individual to $54,550 for a family of four.

"During such difficult economic times, this program is an excellent way for homeowners to pay for energy efficient upgrades they might think they would be unable to afford otherwise," stated Councilor Dave Marshall.

"With fuel costs doubled in just a year, people really need to find ways to reduce their use of heating oil. Replacing an out-of-date inefficient furnace or adding insulation in the attic could help reign in those costs and those energy savings could be a lifesaver for a family struggling to keep their home. People need to know that there is a program in the city that can help them," concluded Marshall.

The federally funded program encourages renovations designed to make a single-family home more energy efficient such as window replacement, insulation, sealing air leaks, and repair or replacement of inefficient heating systems. To help homeowners access the loan program, the city's Housing & Neighborhood Services Division now has a state-certified residential energy auditor on staff.

"As the city's energy auditor, I am able in a matter of hours, to assess the situation in a home and make some very cost-effective suggestions on ways to reduce energy consumption and save the family money," stated Roger Hutchins, Housing Rehabilitation Specialist. "This service is free and available to any qualifying resident interested in the loan program.

Loan applicants can also receive help from the city's Housing & Neighborhood Services Division in locating a contractor, preparing any paperwork necessary for the loan, and managing the construction. The Program requires correcting any building or safety code violations that may need to be fixed in the home.

For more information visit the city's website at http://www.portlandmaine.gov/planning/housing.asp or call Mary Davis at 874-8698.

###

--
David A. Marshall

City Council, District 2

City of Portland, Maine

207.409.6617

damarshall@portlandmaine.gov

www.portlandmaine.gov




Fine Arist

Pine Street Studios

www.DAMFineArt.com

Thursday, June 05, 2008

THE BOLLARD

Briefs
Written and compiled by Chris Busby, except as noted

June 5, 2008

Bar dispersal law may be repealed
The city ordinance passed last year that limits the places in downtown Portland and the Old Port where establishments can serve alcohol and offer live entertainment may be repealed this summer. City Councilor Dave Marshall, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said his committee will discuss an order he's submitted to nix the zoning requirement at its meeting next Tuesday, June 10.

The law prohibits new bars and restaurants from offering music if they are located within 100 feet of another drinking establishment that also offers live entertainment. Commercial spaces where booze and music were previously offered are grandfathered under the law – which is why, for example, a new bar and dance club set to open in the former location of Digger's/Liquid Blue, on Fore Street, was granted liquor and entertainment licenses earlier this year. [See "'Footloose' in Portland," April 5, 2007, in News.]

The law has made a host of locations in the Old Port and Arts District off-limits to new bars and restaurants that could potentially host the performing arts. Marshall said at least one business owner has been denied the opportunity to host music due to the law, though he could not recall which establishment was affected.

The dispersal ordinance, as it's called, "has only caused confusion," said Marshall. "It hasn't done anything to improve public safety…. This ordinance seeks to prohibit entertainment in the Old Port and the Arts District when we should really be focusing on good management practices of bars."

Jan Beitzer, executive director of Portland's Downtown District – the quasi-municipal organization that promotes and helps maintain downtown Portland – was shocked to hear of Marshall's move to kill the law. "I was stunned that he would do that without even having the courtesy to contact me," she said. "He knows that it effects PDD directly and he's on the PDD board. It would have been nice if he'd given us the courtesy of a heads-up."

Marshall said he followed the same procedure councilors always do when they want to introduce an ordinance. A majority of his three-member committee is expected to vote to forward the repeal order to the full council (fellow committee member Kevin Donoghue opposed the dispersal requirement last year and favors repeal). Marshall is fairly confident a majority of the full council will vote to strike the law from the books.

Beitzer said the dispersal ordinance has helped keep Congress Street from experiencing the problems that have plagued Wharf Street – rowdy crowds from different bars and nightclubs gathering late at night and causing fights and other disturbances.

"PDD believes the dispersal rule has been working," she said. "This comes under the heading: don't try to fix something that's not broken."


[Full disclosure: The Bollard has previously editorialized against the dispersal ordinance; see "The Flogging Song," April 19, 2007, in Views.]

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

PRESS HERALD

Group raises funds for skate park

By Kelley Bouchard Portland Press Herald Staff Writer June 03, 2008 05:40 PM

Portland's skatepark planning committee is raising money to build a new skatepark at Dougherty Field.

The Momentum fundraising campaign includes a buck-a-brick effort to match a $50,000 grant from the Ollie Fund of the Maine Community Foundation.

Each brick, which will cost $1, will be inscribed and will be used to build the park.

So far, the committee has raised $150,000 toward its $325,000 goal, said City Councilor David Marshall, the committee's chairman.

The logo for the Momentum campaign was designed by Deering High School student Meaghan Maurice, the winner of a citywide contest.

For more information on how to purchase a brick or about the work of the Skatepark Planning Committee, click here.

Monday, June 02, 2008

PRESS HERALD

Debate goes back nearly 100 years
Fear – of corruption and immigrants – has driven the issue historically.

By TOM BELL, Staff Writer June 1, 2008


The debate over the city's form of government goes back to the early 1900s, when Portland and other Maine cities were swept up in a national clean-government movement that sought to replace big-city bosses and corrupt political machines with professional city managers.

At the time, Portland was run by an elected a mayor, a nine-member common council and a nine-member board of aldermen, with each member of both boards representing one of the city's nine wards.

In 1923, reformers joined forces with the city's business establishment, Portland Press Herald publisher Guy Gannett and liberals in the Republican Party to bring change to City Hall.

The Ku Klux Klan, a force in Maine politics at the time, also supported the effort. The Klan was alarmed by a surge in immigration and the growing political influence of the city's Catholic wards. About 6,000 people attended two Klan rallies at City Hall on Sept. 27, three days before the referendum vote that changed the system.

The new government was a council with five members elected at-large, described by supporters as a "board of business directors." The council appointed a city manager. There was no mayor, only a council chairman.

The Protestants in Portland's business and political establishment believed the new arrangement would dilute the ethnic vote and give power to a professional manager who would be "more like one of them," said state Rep. Herb Adams, D-Portland, a historian.

The council was expanded to nine members in 1946. In 1969, the title of the council chairman was changed to mayor.

Today, while the religious and ethnic strife that plagued the city in 1920s is no longer a factor, the same issues of democratic representation and leadership are still at stake, said City Councilor David Marshall.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: tbell@pressherald.com

Monday, May 26, 2008

THE WEST END NEWS

http://thewestendnews.com/MAY2008.html

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

WENA Action Saves Library (For Now)

The Reiche library will stay open after District 2 Councilor
Dave Marshall asked the Portland City Council on May 19th
to restore $30,000 from the City’s contingency fund,
allowing the library to remain open for at least one more
year. The West End Neighborhood Association organized
opposition to the proposed closing of the local branch
library when it became public in early May.

Library Director Stephen Podgajny and the library trustees
have promised extensive long-range planning, with public
input, during the coming year.

West End residents who contacted City Councilors to ask
for their support were pleased that the vote was 8 - 1 in
favor of Marshall's resolution. Jill Duson was the lone
councilor to vote against the measure, saying that she
couldn't support last-minute changes to the budget because
the finance committee had worked hard to balance
competing community interests.

The West End Neighborhood Association will keep residents
posted on PPL's long-range planning process, which will
eventually determine the fate of Reiche and other branch
libraries. WENA urged residents to stay close to the process
by joining the newly-formed Friends of Reiche. They can be
reached at wendneighborhood@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 22, 2008


GOVERNOR SIGNS LD 2019: An Act To Make Capital Rail Improvements for Economic Development Purposes

Councilor David A. Marshall (second from the left) watches the Governor Baldachi sign LD 2019 on Wednesday May 21st. He worked with Tony Donovan (far left) and Rep Boyd Marley (behind the Governor) to amend the bill in the Transportation Committee. The amended version of the bill easily passed the House and Senate and narrowly made it through the Appropriations Committee on a 7-6 vote thanks to strong support from the Governor.

Councilor Marshall lead the charge to block an Federal earmark funding request to widen I-295 through Portland. With the League of Young Voters, Marshall organized a Transportation Forum last winter.

During the Green Independent Presidential Caucus, Marshall moved a resolution opposing the the widening of I-295 and encouraging the expansion of passenger rail to Brunswick. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

When the Maine Department of Transportation held its public hearing in Portland for its I-295 Corridor Study, over 100 people joined in opposition.

Then over 150 told the PACTS to drop its Federal funding earmark request to widen I-295 at its public hearing in Portland in February.



What LD 2019 accomplishes:

1. Fixes the missing link in our railroad network by directing one half of the rental car tax for investment in railroad improvements to Yarmouth Junction and Brunswick. Towns and cities along railroads throughout Maine will have the possibility for passenger service and improve freight business by investing in this railroad link.

2. The success of passenger rail service in Maine due to ridership exceeding expectations and economic development will be extended to Yarmouth, Freeport, and Brunswick by 2010.

3. Freight rail speeds will double allowing Maine wood products and other goods to be exported more competitively.

4. State tax revenue will increase by $72 million by 2030 due to transit oriented developments along the passenger rail corridor.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

PRESS HERALD

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=188879&ac=PHnws

Approved Portland city budget spares Reiche library

City councilors pass a $185 million budget that will reduce the number of polling places.

By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Staff Writer May 20, 2008

The Reiche Branch of the Portland Public Library will stay open for another year, but the number of polling places will be reduced from 16 to six, under a $185 million municipal budget that was approved unanimously by the Portland City Council on Monday.

Both issues generated strong public reaction in the final week of deliberation over a budget that reduced many city services and eliminated 93 jobs through attrition and layoffs.

Councilors voted 8-1 to restore $30,000 for the Reiche Branch, as proposed by Councilor David Marshall. They transferred the money from a contingency fund, so the change didn't increase the municipal budget. The main library and its five branches will get the same appropriation – $3.1 million – that they got this fiscal year, covering 82 percent of the library budget.

Councilors who supported the measure said they were swayed by library officials' promise that it would give them a year to analyze their facilities and services and work with the community to develop a long-range plan to address rising costs, limited financial resources and changing library needs.

"We need to avoid the summary execution of the Reiche Branch that the library trustees have proposed," said Councilor Daniel Skolnik.

Councilor Jill Duson, who opposed restoring the Reiche Branch's funding, said she couldn't support last-minute changes to the budget because the finance committee worked hard to balance competing community interests.

"They all resonate with me," Duson said.

The council strongly backed City Clerk Linda Cohen's plan to save about $15,000 on major elections, which cost about $40,000 each. The plan reduces the number of mainland polling places from two to one in Districts 1 and 2, and from three to one in Districts 3, 4 and 5. It also eliminates polling places on Cliff and Great Diamond islands, but keeps one on Peaks Island.

Nine residents spoke against Cohen's plan, saying that it will decrease voters' access and increase lines at the polls, which could discourage people from voting, especially younger voters. One resident supported the reduction, saying he had lived in larger cities that had fewer polling places.

In the end, the council voted 7-2 against a proposal by Councilor Kevin Donoghue, which Marshall supported, to keep polling places on Cliff and Great Diamond islands, which cost a total of $2,500 per election. Donoghue said it would be costly and inconvenient for islanders to take a ferry to vote at the District 1 polling place on the mainland.

Most councilors said they believe Cohen will promote public awareness of the changes and encourage voter participation, especially through absentee voting, which represents 30 percent to 50 percent of voting statewide.

In a memo to the council, Cohen said participation increased from 31,000 voters in the 2000 presidential election, when Portland had 24 polling places, to 35,000 voters in the 2004 presidential election, when there were 17 polling places.

In passing the budget, the council also set a property tax rate for the year that starts July 1. The combined $274.5 million for municipal and school budgets will increase Portland's tax rate by 64 cents (3.7 percent), from $17.10 to $17.74 per $1,000 of assessed property value. At that rate, the tax bill on a $230,000 home will increase $147, from $3,933 to $4,080.

The city budget is $1 million (0.5 percent) higher than the current budget, which ends June 30.

The council and Portland voters previously approved an $89.5 million school budget that eliminated 48 jobs – 28 positions left vacant this year and 20 positions to be cut in 2008-09.

The school budget for the coming year is $3.85 million (4.5 percent) higher than the current $85.7 million budget.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com
PRESS HERALD

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=188580&ac=PHnws

On the road again, skateboarders face moving violations

Portland police are ticketing skateboarders, like bicyclists, for violating traffic laws.

By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Staff Writer May 19, 2008

Portland police have started ticketing skateboarders who violate traffic laws in the Old Port and Arts District after business owners complained that a recent ordinance change turned the downtown area into a dangerous playground.

The controversy calls into question an attempt by skateboarding advocates and some city officials to recognize skateboards as a legitimate, pollution-free form of transportation.

Business owners say the conflict cropped up last summer, especially on Exchange Street, after the City Council revoked an old ordinance that prohibited skateboarding on city streets. The council acted to clarify a newer ordinance that says skateboarders, like bicyclists, can ride on city streets as long as they follow traffic laws.

And while some say the problem started when the city removed its skate park on Marginal Way last spring, it's unclear whether a new skate park planned at Dougherty Field will lure skateboarders from their favorite downtown streets.

The council's public safety committee directed police to step up traffic enforcement on skateboarders last week. The three-member panel took action after it reviewed a business group's proposal to ban skateboarders from the area bounded by Congress, Franklin, High and Commercial streets.

"We weren't comfortable with an outright ban," said Councilor David Marshall, committee chairman. "We found that the police had never attempted to enforce traffic laws on skateboarders."

The committee is considering a ban on bicycle and skate tricks on city streets and sidewalks. It's also investigating whether the city's anti-cruising ordinance, which prohibits driving by a posted location more than twice every two hours – largely for the purpose of picking up sexual partners – may be applied to skateboarders who ride repeatedly on the same street.

Last summer, in addition to revoking a contradictory ordinance, the council banned skateboarding on downtown sidewalks.

Still, confusion continued. Skateboarding laws and lack of police enforcement led to an overall spike in skateboarding downtown, said Janis Beitzer, executive director of Portland's Downtown District, the group that sought the ban.

"That's when we saw the influx," Beitzer said. "They've converted Exchange Street into a playground. It's a public policy that has not worked and has unintended consequences."

Skateboarders say they have as much right to ride the streets of Maine's largest city as any car, motorcycle or bicycle. They say a total skateboarding ban is unnecessary and believe that most skateboarders will obey traffic laws if police enforce them.

"We don't need to take that fascist route," said Dylan Verner, 26, a skateboarding advocate who works at Sunny Breeze Boardsports on Marginal Way. "It's all our territory, and we need to protect the interests of everyone."

The center of the conflict is a short, steep stretch of Exchange Street, between Middle and Fore streets, that's lined with trendy shops and restaurants. It's in the heart of the Old Port, near Post Office and Tommy's parks, where teenagers and twentysomethings come to hang out and ride.

"Exchange Street is a stage for them," Verner said. "Some of them are incredibly talented athletes."

Most use wider, longer skateboards known as longboards, which are designed for racing and transportation. Shortboards are more commonly used in skate parks. The riders start at the top of the hill, at Exchange and Middle streets, and streak down the single-lane, one-way street, sometimes dodging vehicles and pedestrians along the way.

Some even blow by the stop sign at Fore Street.

Some skateboarders engage in "sliding." They crouch down and press gloved hands on the pavement to control their movements. The fingertips and palms of the gloves are padded with disks they cut from plastic cutting boards.

For some, like David Ericson, 25, skateboarding is the primary way they get around.

"I have a driver's license. I have a car. I prefer my longboard. I've gone as far away as Falmouth on it," he said.

Karl Geib, a bicycle patrol officer, gave out a few tickets to skateboarders in the Old Port on Thursday afternoon. Sol Melendy, 16, got one for pushing his skateboard up Exchange Street, against traffic.

Melendy is scheduled for a district court hearing on June 24 unless he pays a $25 waiver fee within 10 days at City Hall. If he contests the civil citation, he could be fined a minimum $50, plus court fees.

"They're picking on skateboarders," Melendy said. "How often do you see a cop giving a ticket for a bike going down a street the wrong way?"

Eli Cayer, a member of city's skate park planning committee, said skateboarding in the Old Port and Arts District may diminish when a $250,000 park opens on St. James Street, off outer Congress Street, near Interstate 295.

Construction could start as early as next spring, Cayer said. The city recently received a $50,000 matching grant through the Ollie Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, and several fundraisers are planned this summer.

Geib and others familiar with the Old Port skating scene aren't so sure that having a skate park will make a difference downtown.

"It's about having an audience," Geib said. "This is the cool place to be."

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

Thursday, May 15, 2008

PRESS HERALD

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=187857&ac=PHnws

Effort under way to keep Portland library branch open

West End residents say restoring $30,000 would save the Reiche Branch and allow for more planning.

By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Staff Writer May 15, 2008


West End residents and others are drumming up support for a budget proposal that would stave off the anticipated closing of the Portland Public Library's Reiche Branch.

City Councilor David Marshall, who represents the West End, plans to ask the council on Monday to restore $30,000 to the library, giving it $3.1 million for 2008-09, the same amount as this year.

Library officials say the $30,000 will give them a year to analyze their facilities and services and work with the community to develop a long-range plan to address rising costs, limited financial resources and changing library needs.

"We need to secure that $30,000 to buy some breathing room for everyone, especially the kids," Stephen Podgajny, executive director, said at Wednesday's board of trustees' meeting at the main library.

Board members urged an audience of about 50 to call or e-mail councilors before they vote on the Reiche Branch issue during final deliberation of a $185 million city budget starting at 7 p.m. Monday.

"The ball, in the short term, is in their court," said Nathan Smith, a board vice president and former city councilor.

Library officials shocked West End residents earlier this month when they said they would close the Reiche Branch in response to a $30,000 reduction in city funding. The council initially considered cutting $50,000 from the current funding level.

Then on Monday, library officials gave the council a 15-page memo stating that the current organization and staffing of the main library on Congress Street and its five neighborhood branches "is not sustainable."

Library officials said they targeted the Reiche Branch because it has the lowest circulation of the city's six library outlets. They also said Portland has more library outlets per capita (10,776 residents per outlet) than any other city in New England.

At Wednesday's trustees' meeting, West End residents described the Reiche Branch as a critical resource in a neighborhood that includes recent immigrants who don't speak English and longtime residents who live in mansions along the Western Promenade.

"It's a real melting pot," said Jo Coyne, a retired school librarian who is a leader of the West End Neighborhood Association. "(The library is) sorely, sorely needed."

Coyne noted that while Portland taxpayers fund about 82 percent of the library's budget, the council appoints only one representative to the 19-member board of trustees, which decides how to spend the money.

The board includes several members from towns outside Portland because the state gives the library about $180,000 each year to serve all residents of Cumberland, York and Oxford counties, Podgajny said.

Looking to Monday, Marshall said it's uncertain whether a majority of the nine-member council will support his $30,000 proposal. Councilors John Anton, Kevin Donoghue and Cheryl Leeman have indicated they'll back his effort, he said. Councilors James Cohen and Nicholas Mavodones Jr. said they probably will support the measure.

Mayor Edward Suslovic said he supports keeping the Reiche Branch open while library officials develop a long-range plan, but he may push to restore less than $30,000. Councilor Daniel Skolnik said he's undecided. Councilor Jill Duson didn't return calls for comment.

"It has the potential to be a close vote," Marshall said at the trustees' meeting. "(Restoring $30,000) might not save the Reiche library forever, but it will give us a chance to have a community dialogue."

Marshall said the $30,000 would come from a contingency fund, so it wouldn't increase the budget.

With $30,000, the library would be able to retain two part-time librarians who operate the branch at Reiche Community School 20 hours per week, Podgajny said.

The library would still have to lay off the equivalent of five full-time employees, all of them at the main library. It would be closed on Mondays as a result.

Some residents questioned whether Monday is the best day to close the main library.

Others questioned plans to temporarily move children's services from the main library to the Munjoy Hill Branch during an $8.5 million renovation of the main library, which starts next spring.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

PRESS HERALD
http://news.mainetoday.com/updates/027000.html

Downtown skateboarding under review

By Kelley Bouchard Portland Press Herald Staff Writer May 13, 2008 05:15 PM

Portland officials are considering a proposed ban on skateboarding in the Old Port and Arts District.

Councilor David Marshall, committee chairman, said the proposal came from representatives of Portland's Downtown District. The ban would apply to the city's pedestrian activities district.

The Portland City Council's public safety committee will consider the proposal at 5:30 p.m. today in the Merrill Auditorium Rehearsal Hall on Myrtle Street.

Marshall said a group of skateboarders has circulated a petition to protect their right to use skateboards as a mode of transportation.

The police department wants to clarify a city ordinance so officers can enforce a ban on doing skateboard tricks on city streets and sidewalks, Marshall said.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

WCSH6 NEWS CENTER

Neighbors Protest Closing Reiche Library

http://www.wcsh6.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=86504

PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER) -- Budget cuts in Portland could force the public library to make cuts, that would include closing the branch at the Reiche Elementary School.

The Reiche branch has been part of the West end neighborhood for 35 years. Dozens came out to protest a plan that could close it.

Reiche is one of five library branches in Portland, not including the main library in Monument Square.

The library's executive director Steve Podgajny says after significant budget cuts they're forced to make changes. Those could include closing the Reiche branch and closing the Main Library on Mondays.

Podgajny says they picked Reiche because of the numbers. The branch is the lowest lender and also closest to the main location.

City councilor David Marshall represents the West end and was at the protest. He's looking into options to find extra revenue in the budget that could help save the branch. He's encouraging residents to attend the library's trustee meeting on Wednesday, May 14th at the main library.

NEWS CENTER

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Maine Switch

St. John Valley Neighborhood Forum #3

When:
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
6:30-8:30pm

Where:
First Atlantic Building
222 St. John Street, Suite G5 Portland, ME

Who:
720-298-2490
stjohnvalley.blogspot.com/

Cost: free

Category: Civic

Description: Community members are invited to join their neighbors and City Councilor David Marshall in a forum focused on the St. John Valley Neighborhood. The meeting on Wednesday, April 23, 2008 is the third in a series of three public meetings to identify community priorities for future improvements in the St. John Valley Neighborhood.

A summary of neighborhood priorities based on input from previous meetings will be presented. The meeting will also include a discussion on moving forward.

The area of focus includes the St. John/Valley St. corridor, from Veteran’s Bridge to Park Avenue, as well as the neighborhood between the Maine Medical Center campus and the Ballpark, as far east as Weymouth Street.

Visit http://stjohnvalley.blogspot.com/ for more details.

Hosted by the City of Portland Planning Department and the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Press Herald

Controversy over city school highlights need for planning
'People are ready' to discuss managing facilities at a time when enrollment is falling, a school board member says.

By TOM BELL, Staff Writer April 12, 2008


On the surface, this week's political drama over a proposal to build a new elementary school in Portland accomplished nothing except a lot of heated accusations and angry e-mail.

But School Committee member Kate Snyder said the controversy brought attention to a complicated and politically explosive issue -- the need to create a long-term plan for managing the school district's aging buildings at a time when enrollments are declining and budgets are tight.

"The conversation has been started in a big way," she said. "And I think people are ready to talk about that stuff. People are more galvanized. They are saying, 'OK, let's do some true facilities planning.'"

The controversy erupted Monday when three city councilors -- Kevin Donoghue, David Marshall and Mayor Ed Suslovic -- unexpectedly killed a measure to allow a plan for a new school on Ocean Avenue to go to referendum June 10.

The state has agreed to provide nearly $20 million for the project. When the school is completed, school officials plan to close the century-old Clifford Elementary School on Falmouth Street.

Donoghue, Marshall and Suslovic argued that the city should not replace the Clifford school with a significantly larger facility without having a plan in place to close an additional elementary school. During the days following the vote, the three councilors were inundated with e-mail and phone calls. They were also sharply criticized by other councilors, school officials and state officials.

On Thursday, the three councilors issued a press release saying that they will change their votes because members of the School Committee had assured them "that they are equally committed to completing an elementary facilities plan in the very near future."

Donoghue, Marshall and Suslovic will ask the council to reconsider the matter and vote again April 28.

Suslovic on Friday declined an interview, saying it would be better for the city if officials put the controversy behind them.

Donoghue did not return phone messages. He had previously said he would reconsider his vote if he got a commitment from school officials to close and consolidate an additional elementary school. The new Ocean Avenue school would serve 440 students; Clifford has 270 students.

Marshall said he still believes that building a new school would be a bad deal for the city unless officials at that same time spell out a consolidation plan.

He agreed to change his vote, he said, only because it became apparent that even opponents of the new school want to decide the issue at the ballot box.

"When it comes down to it, the voters want to have their say on this," he said. "I voted my conscience the other night. I still have deep regrets about where we are at."

He added, "For me, this battle isn't over. It just goes to the polls next."

School Committee Chairman John Coyne said the committee hasn't changed its views. The board still plans to wait until the new school is built, in 2011, to make any decision about whether to close another school.

He said elementary school enrollments west of Interstate 295 are holding steady and that all are near capacity.

Before making a decision to close a school, he said, it makes sense to wait until after the new school is ready and examine the latest enrollment and demographic trends.

The School Committee began working on a facilities plan in January and expects to finish the work sometime this fall, said School Committee member Jaimey Caron. The plan looks at all school district buildings, not just elementary schools.

The timetable has not changed over the past week, and neither has the School Committee's commitment to good planning, Coyne said.

The only thing that has changed, he said, is that some council members now better understand the School Committee's commitment to the process.

This week's controversy Controversy over city school highlights need for planning
'People are ready' to discuss managing facilities at a time when enrollment is falling, a school board member says.

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By TOM BELL, Staff Writer April 12, 2008


On the surface, this week's political drama over a proposal to build a new elementary school in Portland accomplished nothing except a lot of heated accusations and angry e-mail.

But School Committee member Kate Snyder said the controversy brought attention to a complicated and politically explosive issue -- the need to create a long-term plan for managing the school district's aging buildings at a time when enrollments are declining and budgets are tight.

"The conversation has been started in a big way," she said. "And I think people are ready to talk about that stuff. People are more galvanized. They are saying, 'OK, let's do some true facilities planning.'"

The controversy erupted Monday when three city councilors -- Kevin Donoghue, David Marshall and Mayor Ed Suslovic -- unexpectedly killed a measure to allow a plan for a new school on Ocean Avenue to go to referendum June 10.

The state has agreed to provide nearly $20 million for the project. When the school is completed, school officials plan to close the century-old Clifford Elementary School on Falmouth Street.

Donoghue, Marshall and Suslovic argued that the city should not replace the Clifford school with a significantly larger facility without having a plan in place to close an additional elementary school. During the days following the vote, the three councilors were inundated with e-mail and phone calls. They were also sharply criticized by other councilors, school officials and state officials.

On Thursday, the three councilors issued a press release saying that they will change their votes because members of the School Committee had assured them "that they are equally committed to completing an elementary facilities plan in the very near future."

Donoghue, Marshall and Suslovic will ask the council to reconsider the matter and vote again April 28.

Suslovic on Friday declined an interview, saying it would be better for the city if officials put the controversy behind them.

Donoghue did not return phone messages. He had previously said he would reconsider his vote if he got a commitment from school officials to close and consolidate an additional elementary school. The new Ocean Avenue school would serve 440 students; Clifford has 270 students.

Marshall said he still believes that building a new school would be a bad deal for the city unless officials at that same time spell out a consolidation plan.

He agreed to change his vote, he said, only because it became apparent that even opponents of the new school want to decide the issue at the ballot box.

"When it comes down to it, the voters want to have their say on this," he said. "I voted my conscience the other night. I still have deep regrets about where we are at."

He added, "For me, this battle isn't over. It just goes to the polls next."

School Committee Chairman John Coyne said the committee hasn't changed its views. The board still plans to wait until the new school is built, in 2011, to make any decision about whether to close another school.

He said elementary school enrollments west of Interstate 295 are holding steady and that all are near capacity.

Before making a decision to close a school, he said, it makes sense to wait until after the new school is ready and examine the latest enrollment and demographic trends.

The School Committee began working on a facilities plan in January and expects to finish the work sometime this fall, said School Committee member Jaimey Caron. The plan looks at all school district buildings, not just elementary schools.

The timetable has not changed over the past week, and neither has the School Committee's commitment to good planning, Coyne said.

The only thing that has changed, he said, is that some council members now better understand the School Committee's commitment to the process.

This week's controversy...Controversy over city school highlights need for planning
'People are ready' to discuss managing facilities at a time when enrollment is falling, a school board member says.

Bookmark & share: digg del.icio.us Reddit
Printer-friendly version E-mail this page Reader Comments
By TOM BELL, Staff Writer April 12, 2008


On the surface, this week's political drama over a proposal to build a new elementary school in Portland accomplished nothing except a lot of heated accusations and angry e-mail.

But School Committee member Kate Snyder said the controversy brought attention to a complicated and politically explosive issue -- the need to create a long-term plan for managing the school district's aging buildings at a time when enrollments are declining and budgets are tight.

"The conversation has been started in a big way," she said. "And I think people are ready to talk about that stuff. People are more galvanized. They are saying, 'OK, let's do some true facilities planning.'"

The controversy erupted Monday when three city councilors -- Kevin Donoghue, David Marshall and Mayor Ed Suslovic -- unexpectedly killed a measure to allow a plan for a new school on Ocean Avenue to go to referendum June 10.

The state has agreed to provide nearly $20 million for the project. When the school is completed, school officials plan to close the century-old Clifford Elementary School on Falmouth Street.

Donoghue, Marshall and Suslovic argued that the city should not replace the Clifford school with a significantly larger facility without having a plan in place to close an additional elementary school. During the days following the vote, the three councilors were inundated with e-mail and phone calls. They were also sharply criticized by other councilors, school officials and state officials.

On Thursday, the three councilors issued a press release saying that they will change their votes because members of the School Committee had assured them "that they are equally committed to completing an elementary facilities plan in the very near future."

Donoghue, Marshall and Suslovic will ask the council to reconsider the matter and vote again April 28.

Suslovic on Friday declined an interview, saying it would be better for the city if officials put the controversy behind them.

Donoghue did not return phone messages. He had previously said he would reconsider his vote if he got a commitment from school officials to close and consolidate an additional elementary school. The new Ocean Avenue school would serve 440 students; Clifford has 270 students.

Marshall said he still believes that building a new school would be a bad deal for the city unless officials at that same time spell out a consolidation plan.

He agreed to change his vote, he said, only because it became apparent that even opponents of the new school want to decide the issue at the ballot box.

"When it comes down to it, the voters want to have their say on this," he said. "I voted my conscience the other night. I still have deep regrets about where we are at."

He added, "For me, this battle isn't over. It just goes to the polls next."

School Committee Chairman John Coyne said the committee hasn't changed its views. The board still plans to wait until the new school is built, in 2011, to make any decision about whether to close another school.

He said elementary school enrollments west of Interstate 295 are holding steady and that all are near capacity.

Before making a decision to close a school, he said, it makes sense to wait until after the new school is ready and examine the latest enrollment and demographic trends.

The School Committee began working on a facilities plan in January and expects to finish the work sometime this fall, said School Committee member Jaimey Caron. The plan looks at all school district buildings, not just elementary schools.

The timetable has not changed over the past week, and neither has the School Committee's commitment to good planning, Coyne said.

The only thing that has changed, he said, is that some council members now better understand the School Committee's commitment to the process.

This week's controversy shone a light on the issue in an "awkward way," said City Councilor John Anton, but the debate resulted in a better understanding of the School Committee's position.

"I think we have a very strong School Committee that is ready to dig in and do the hard work on these issues," he said.

In a message she posted on Friday on a Web site that is used by parents, Snyder urged people to move beyond the controversy.

"This week has been wrought with anxiety for so many of us, on so many levels," she wrote. "There is a lot of healing to do as a result."

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

tbell@pressherald.com shone a light on the issue in an "awkward way," said City Councilor John Anton, but the debate resulted in a better understanding of the School Committee's position.

"I think we have a very strong School Committee that is ready to dig in and do the hard work on these issues," he said.

In a message she posted on Friday on a Web site that is used by parents, Snyder urged people to move beyond the controversy.

"This week has been wrought with anxiety for so many of us, on so many levels," she wrote. "There is a lot of healing to do as a result."

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

tbell@pressherald.com shone a light on the issue in an "awkward way," said City Councilor John Anton, but the debate resulted in a better understanding of the School Committee's position.

"I think we have a very strong School Committee that is ready to dig in and do the hard work on these issues," he said.

In a message she posted on Friday on a Web site that is used by parents, Snyder urged people to move beyond the controversy.

"This week has been wrought with anxiety for so many of us, on so many levels," she wrote. "There is a lot of healing to do as a result."

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

tbell@pressherald.com shone a light on the issue in an "awkward way," said City Councilor John Anton, but the debate resulted in a better understanding of the School Committee's position.

"I think we have a very strong School Committee that is ready to dig in and do the hard work on these issues," he said.

In a message she posted on Friday on a Web site that is used by parents, Snyder urged people to move beyond the controversy.

"This week has been wrought with anxiety for so many of us, on so many levels," she wrote. "There is a lot of healing to do as a result."

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

tbell@pressherald.com shone a light on the issue in an "awkward way," said City Councilor John Anton, but the debate resulted in a better understanding of the School Committee's position.

"I think we have a very strong School Committee that is ready to dig in and do the hard work on these issues," he said.

In a message she posted on Friday on a Web site that is used by parents, Snyder urged people to move beyond the controversy.

"This week has been wrought with anxiety for so many of us, on so many levels," she wrote. "There is a lot of healing to do as a result."

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

tbell@pressherald.com shone a light on the issue in an "awkward way," said City Councilor John Anton, but the debate resulted in a better understanding of the School Committee's position.

"I think we have a very strong School Committee that is ready to dig in and do the hard work on these issues," he said.

In a message she posted on Friday on a Web site that is used by parents, Snyder urged people to move beyond the controversy.

"This week has been wrought with anxiety for so many of us, on so many levels," she wrote. "There is a lot of healing to do as a result."

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

tbell@pressherald.com

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