By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,559)
City manager Jon P. Jennings told members of the Bayside Neighborhood Association that “Bayside Boost” is not just a summer program .- it’s an ongoing effort to resolve issues that have been ignored for too long.in this downtrodden neighborhood of Portland.
Jennings addressed members of the Association following a luncheon catered by Chiptole and held at 409 Cumberland Avenue,- an Avesta housing building this afternoon.
At the top of the city manager’s to do list is changing zoning regulations to allow city shelters elsewhere. “We need to ask Preble Street – do they need to be there?”, Jennings asked. I’m sure that if Mark Swann were here, he’d have an answer,” Jennings said. “The city needs to distribute social services throughout the city.”
Jennings said that Portland needs to focus more on treating mental illness. The city is selling property on Free Street and perhaps those funds could be used for treatment options. “Since the Governor doesn’t care about this stuff……..the city needs to take a more active role in the treatment of mental illness,” Jennings said.
Bayside needs a lot more lighting and that Police Chief Sauschuck expects to add more money to his budget to increase community policing in Bayside.. (The current office is on Portland Street.) Jennings said that trying to get the Midtown project built has been frustrating for him and was highly critical of Federated Co.,the developer, of the project. Jennings said that Jonathan Cox, Federated’s CEO, has now expressed interest in increasing the height and perhaps adding a hotel to the development. The company hopes to break ground in the spring. Jennings said that there are currently over 3 million sq. ft. of development underway in the city. The planning board is booked until January of 2017.
“Bayside is different from every zone around it. It’s zoning allows for more social service facilities than elsewhere. Homeless services are better off disbursed throughout the city,” said Laura Cannon, VP of the BNA. She said that was learned during a Homelessness Prevention Task Force held several years ago. City Councilor Dory Waxman and Jon Jennings were co-chair of the Task Force.
Steve Hirshorn, President of the NBA said that Patrick Venne, consultant for the Midtown project, had contacted him with the possibility of making a presentation at the November 1 monthly meeting.
“We are very appreciative of all the work that Belinda has been doing and the accessibility to Jon that we have had,” said Hirshorn