Letter: Portland should recognize its 'Education District'

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I am writing in response to “Portland’s ‘Education District’ Hopes for Recognition” (Feb. 12). What a splendid idea by Ms. Schiller to take the opportunity while this study is going forward and include one of the foremost assets in the PACTS project.

Improving signage for Portland’s various districts is a great idea in helping to promote a great city. Every great city also has centers for education that are a vital part of its local fabric and the image to outsiders who visit. Given that Portland is host to the University of Southern Maine – Maine’s second largest university – and the University of New England – a growing institution – doesn’t it make sense to designate the area of these two schools as Portland’s “Education District”?

Surely education focus is as important as arts and entertainment, food, and central business. It is even more important than designations of neighborhoods on the peninsula. Woodworth Associates says including this area would cost $18,000 plus the cost of signage. Isn’t designating an “Education District” worth it? After all, higher education is a key economic engine for the area and attracts people to these campuses. An “Education District” merits spending a tiny amount that is a drop in the bucket in a huge city budget to cover.

Since both USM and UNE want to have this designation, is there any reason to not include this “Education District” as the city moves forward with this project?

Bradbury Blake
Cape Elizabeth