By Carol (Scoop) McCracken (Post # 1,698)
About 135 people braved cold temperatures to take advantage of a well-publicized opportunity to give their feedback on the future development of the Franklin Street corridor at a public workshop tonight at the Portland Public Library. Eight separate stations were fixed around Rines Auditorium. Each station provided choices for participants to pick and choose their favorites on a variety of subjects – i.e. transportation, roundabouts, street configurations and more. Carol Morris, organizer of the workshop, said that “no decisions have been made. We are looking for your feedback on these ideas. They are essential to this process.” The results will be tallied by Morris and the results released sometime in the future.
The process is important because it will provide parameters for the future development of the Franklin Street corridor – including the improvement of Lincoln Park. It may also motivate S. Donald Sussman, hedge fund owner billionaire, to reignite his condominium development, Hampshire Street Lofts, which was suddenly dropped for “business” reasons. “A number of factors will influence the best and most beneficial redevelopment of the property. Certainly the outcome of the redesign of the Franklin Arterial is relevent to any project design or master-planning relating to the properties,” emailed Tom Federlee, real estate attorney for Sussman, to mhn.com Franklin Street could be relocated more to the west leaving room for development in the India Street neighborhood by Mr. Sussman, (or other developers). Key to the project is determining where the road will go – the road that connects to the Portland waterfront on Commercial Street. Once that is determined, the city can start selling parcels of land to public and private partnerships for development said Portland Trails Executive Jamie Parker. “People have been talking mostly about the design and not much about how to pay for it all,” he added. “Portland Daily Sun” columnist Christian Milneil said: “The land is so valuable it won’t be hard to finance construction. The city could sell some of the property to private developers. After they buy it, they start paying taxes on it. That could amount to $17,000 per acre per year until it is developed. Obviously that’s when the taxes would be higher. The city has a real incentive to sell the land and reduce its highway expenses. The city would save money on road maintenance.” Milneil is on the 19 member advisory committee representing the East Bayside Neighborhood.
Frank S. Reilly, founder and ringleader of LoveLincolnPark.org said the redesign of Franklin Street will have a major impact on restoring Lincoln Park to its original glory days in the community. It needs to be restored to its original size, have new benches installed and lighting added to create a better and bigger space for neighborhood functions Reilly said. The non-profit’s mission is “to completely restore Lincoln Park to its original design and size so that once again Portland will have a beautiful park at the “top of the City” for everyhone to enjoy.” (Reilly who is a playwright also appeared in movies with Clint Eastwood, Lonnie Anderson, Carol Burnett, Valerie Harper, etc. He and his wife live on the West End of Portland.) Chris Hoppin, who is a retired US Air Force officer lives on Peaks Island, said: “We islanders remind everyone that Franklin Street provides access to the ferry terminal. Every mode of transportation is used to connect islanders to the main land through the ferry terminal. We also remind everyone of the seasonality of our metro area.”
Markos Miller, one of the four co-founders of the project, told attendees that Franklin Street will not fix itself. “We can make the roadway function better for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.”
editor’s note: mhn.com is once again experiencing difficulty in posting the great photos taken at the workshop, but will keep working to correct the situation. Apologies!