The City of South Portland must decide what to do with the 6-acre Public Works site on O’Neil Street, since the facility is scheduled to be closed next year. This site sits in the middle of a densely populated area. I suspect many people would immediately think of filling it in with more housing. However, this will neither add to the quality of life of current residents, nor fill the town coffers, since newly constructed single-family homes are known for becoming a net financial drain on the town.
Let’s develop this site as a public park! South Portland is rightly known for valuing its green spaces and facilitating public access to nature, and I see this as a great opportunity to continue this legacy. I have lived in European cities, many of which have been intentionally laid out so that all citizens are within easy walking distance of a green space. This adds immeasurably to the quality of life in these places. A new public park in the Meeting House Hill area would be heavily used and greatly valued. And the creation of a new public park would burnish South Portland’s reputation as a wonderful place to live, which values and preserves its precious open spaces, rather than selling them off to the highest bidder, as some communities do.
This opportunity will not come again. Let’s use it wisely!
Mary Wheeler, South Portland