Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Stroudwater Place and the Rural Character of Stroudwater Street

Another day, another Press Herald piece about Stroudwater Place. I'm not complaining, though; keep 'em coming.

Today's edition quotes the same skeptics as this American Journal article, but it adds a few other voices, including Arthur Randall, a co-owner of the farm across the street from the proposed development.

I empathize with the skeptics in the article who grouse that this development will alter the rural character of outer Stroudwater Street. In fact, I am one of the approximately 10,000 cars that use that street every day, as I drive that route each time I drive into Portland or South Portland largely because I have long enjoyed the rural oasis that stretch of road provides between suburban Westbrook, urban Portland, and crammed South Portland.

Nevertheless, I am tepidly supporting this project (though I find myself become more and more bullish every day) largely because I firmly believe the land will be developed in the future. Its owner, Jason Snyder, has attempted to develop the land in the past (remember: This land was the proposed location of the failed racino in 2003). Moreover, the new middle school will be built directly down the street, a project that'll be another blow against the idea of maintaining the swath of rural land in the area. The pertinent question to ask, therefore, is not "should it be developed?" Instead, I think the question is, "How should it be developed?" And considering the scope of private financing and the developers involved, not to mention the shiny reputation of the architectural firm, it is, I think, difficult to imagine a more appealing option. Besides, we are called the City of Westbrook for a reason, and I think single-home sprawl into Maine's exurbs poses a far more dangerous threat to the open space in this state than a project in Westbrook that abuts the Maine Turnpike.

Besides, how ironic would it be for the Randalls to continue camping out their "Beef: It's What's for Dinner" tractor trailer on the land across the street from a shopping "experience" that attracts the fine folks of Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, et al?

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. I somehow missed this Press Herald piece about the seemingly strange relationship between Jason Snyder and Arthur Emil, the brains, cash, and property behind Stroudwater Place.

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