Portland's East Bayside area to be part of national planning effort

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PORTLAND — A group of architects and urban planners this spring will work on a plan to make East Bayside a more vibrant, pedestrian-friendly and connected neighborhood.

The neighborhood was chosen by the American Institute of Architects as one of seven communities in the United States that will receive technical assistance to help turn it into a sustainable urban area.

The Sustainable Design Assessment Team program focuses on transportation, economic and environmental issues and will work with local officials and neighborhood members to come up with a plan to improve East Bayside.

The grant, which comes in the form of expert advice, was awarded to the East Bayside Neighborhood Organization, the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service and the city.

East Bayside is bounded by four major thoroughfares: Franklin Arterial, Washington Avenue, Congress Street and Interstate 295. It includes a mix of industrial, creative and residential uses, including the Kennedy Park public housing development.

Alan Holt, an adjunct professor at the Muskie School who has been working with the neighborhood association, said “East Bayside has been largely neglected over the past 40 years, but the national attention to this effort appropriately illustrates the hard work that has begun to turn this trend around.”

The AIA team is expected to arrive in Portland in early spring. The other communities to win the planning award include Allegheny County, Penn.; Allentown, Penn.; Bridgeport, Conn.; Coos Bay, Ore.; Ithaca, N.Y., and Oxford, Miss.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]