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.

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