By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,168)
The public is invited to attend a public meeting this afternoon, Monday, July 28th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm in the State of Maine Room, City Hall in Portland. Public comment will be taken during the meeting on a proposed Plan for the area. The meeting is hosted by the India Street Neighborhood Advisory Committee. (“ISNAC“). The co-chairs are Councilor Kevin Donoghue and Richard Barringer. Staff assistance came from Urban Designer Caitlin Cameron and Alex Jaegerman, Planning Divison Director.
Included in the plan are policies on the topics of a Historic District, a Form-based Code and inclusory (affordable housing) Zoning. Comments and questions may also be submitted on the city’s India Street Neighborhood Planning webpage where you will also find meeting and project information, the draft plan and accompanying documents.
As you may know and as the draft plan describes, India Street is the first street in Portland. As far back as the 1820s, the India Street Neighborhood was home to a large community of African-Americans. Later on, it became the home for many newly arrived immigrant groups, including Irish, Italian, Jewish and Scandinavian populations. Jobs were found for these immigrants on the Portland waterfront, Grand Trunk Railroad and the Portland Company.
However, in more recent years, the neighborhood has lost some of its key landmarks, incuding the Grand Trunk Station and the house where Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born; at the corner of Fore and Hancock Streets. The most dramatic change to the area of course was the construction of the Franklin Arterial, which removed many homes and commercial structures at the western end of the neighborhood and which severed what had been a seamless transition to the downtown core. The removal of homes and construction of Munjoy South on Mountfort Street cdreated another abrupt boundary to the neighborhood where there had been none before, according to the draft plan dated June 2014.
After receiving public comment, the ISNAC will at a subsequent meeting on August 7th, make its recommendation to the planning board, the HIstoric Planning Board and the City Council.