SOUTH PORTLAND — In the wake of acrimony between some Knightville residents and business owners about the direction of traffic on Ocean Street, some are trying to heal the divide through a new neighborhood group.
Bridging Knightville held its first meeting Wednesday evening at Verbena on Ocean Street, the day after the block between E and D streets was reverted to two-way traffic.
The goal of the group is to be nonpolitical about controversial issues, E Street resident Dan Hogan said, hoping to focus on positive things happening in the community.
The group is “as much social” as it is informative, he said.
The dispute over traffic and parking dates back several years, but only recently became heated, when the City Council revisited the issue. The council decided in March to restore two-way traffic and parallel parking, and the Public Works Department did the work Tuesday evening.
Some residents and business owners who oppose the change are circulating a petition to return the street to one-way traffic with angled parking. The petition has to be filed with the city by July 15 with at least 944 valid signatures.
In the meantime, some who took sides during the dispute are agreeing to disagree and hope that others do the same.
At the June 1 meeting, Hogan told the 30 or so people present that Bridging Knightville hope to “bring the neighborhood back together.”
It also aims to use meetings to showcase local businesses like Verbena, whose owner, Melissa Coriaty, agreed to host and cater the small event.
When recalling her decision to open her business at 103 Ocean St. nearly 10 years ago, Coriaty said, “This is a great area, (and) there’s so much potential here.”
An aerial view of South Portland’s Knightville neighborhood. (bridgingknightville.org)