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Planners seek community input on future of Portland's East Bayside neighborhood

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Planners seek community input on future of Portland's East Bayside neighborhood

PORTLAND — Urban planners from across the nation will be in Portland next week to find out what kind of improvements the community wants to see in East Bayside.

In February, Portland was selected as one of seven U.S. cities to win a grant from the American Institute of Architects to transform a part of the community into a more sustainable place to live.

The Sustainable Design Assessment Team program establishes a national team of architects and planners who will study transportation, economic and environmental issues in East Bayside and then come up with a plan to transform the area into a more pedestrian-friendly and better-designed urban neighborhood.

On March 30, seven AIA team members will hold a public forum from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Root Cellar, 94 Washington Ave. The meeting is a chance for members of the East Bayside neighborhood and others interested in improving the area to discuss what they would like to see.

There will also be a community dinner beginning at 5 p.m., which is free and open to the public and will feature food from Somalia, Vietnam, Russia, Iraq and other nations where East Baysiders lived before they moved to Portland.

On April 1, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ford Auditorium at Portland High School, the AIA team will present the input gathered from the community and how it might fit into an improvement plan for the neighborhood.

East Bayside includes densely residential areas like Kennedy Park, light industrial properties and an emerging arts scene. The neighborhood is bounded by Franklin Arterial, Congress Street, Washington Avenue and Interstate 295.

Jennifer Hutchins, director of communications for the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service – which worked with the East Bayside Neighborhood Organization and the city to secure the grant – said the AIA team is expected to make an interim assessment of East Bayside later this spring and produce a full report in the summer.

For more information about the upcoming meetings, go to eastbayside.org or call the neighborhood organization at 408-2431.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net