By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,114)
Voting ‘No” Tuesday, June 10th, on a city referendum, will assure the Greater Portland area of a safer and improved Congress Square according to proponents of a revitalized downtown arts district. A vibrant Plaza next to the Westin Hotel will be an economic boost to the area, bringing in money and creating jobs according to a statement issued by Mayor Michael Brennan earlier today. A “NO” vote will continue the economic growth that Portland has enjoyed recently and eliminate unintended burdens to the city’s already stressed budget.
Despite a massive publicity blitz by the struggling “Portland Sun” last Friday, an avalanche of press releases and an attempt to revitalize Congress Square by bringing in the Small Axe Food Truck, doubts still exist as to whether this is enough to turnaround a Plaza that became a haven for the homeless and those in need of a drug fix or those needing to sleep off too many drinks. Those are the facts. While Frank Turek, president of the Friends of Congress Square has assured mhn.com that the non-profit has enough financial resources to maintain the Plaza indefinitely, doubts remain. Will the resources that the Friends, under Turek’s direction, be able to prevent the Plaza from returning to a haven for the homeless and those with other problems? The wiser odds are that the financial backers of the Westin Hotel will prevail in this endeavor with the construction of an events center on most of the site.
Portland has made great strides in promoting itself as a :foodie town on a harbor to many up and down the east coast and across the country. Following that, hotels have sprung up all over Portland to accommodate tourists enjoying the ambiance of the City. That includes The Westin Hotel. The City needs to support this continued effort to attract tourists to the area. Voting YES on Question 1 will rescind the vote of the city council last fall in which it decided to sell most of Congress Square to RockBridge Cap. for its development of an events center – a seriously needed facility in the City according to those in the conference center business. Countless $$ have been lost because of the lack of such a facility in Portland according to those in the tourism business. RockBridge’s financial resources will insure that many fewer calls will have to be made to the police and ambulance services to assist those in need of care they can’t provide for themselves.
An outspoken supporter of the Friends of Congress Square Park, city councilor David Marshall, even went so far as to criticize city manager Mark Rees for what Marshall considered a bias description of the referendum on the city’s website in the “Portland Sun” last Friday. The battle is heating up, because there is a lot on the line for councilor Marshall and The Friends of Congress Square Park.
This regressive position advocated by Green members of the City Council (Kevin Donoghue and David Marshall) needs to be stopped – before the Greens do more damage to the City’s reputation in the tourism field – here and elsewhere.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The “Portland Daily Sun” originally published six days a week. It has downsized itself several times – until the “Portland Sun” now publishes two days a week; Tuesday and Friday. Furthermore, its lone reporter Craig Lyons has announced that he’s leaving the paper to attend graduate journalism school in the fall. He’ll be missed, personally, and for his clear and objective writing, by mhn.com. In many respects, his professionalism has been a role model for mhn.com