(Portland, ME) June 25, 2018: Top honors go to the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG): The Maine Association of Planners (MAP) has just honored GPCOG with its Plan of the Year Award for the South Portland West End Neighborhood Master Plan.
In winning the award, MAP noted this plan “goes beyond the traditional neighborhood plan and instead has been a driving force for real-time change, broad community empowerment, and enduring public and private partnerships.”
GPCOG partnered with Richardson & Associates, Southern Maine Planning and Development (SMPDC), and also worked closely with the city of South Portland, Avesta Housing and The Opportunity Alliance. GPCOG’s approach for gaining public input included community dinners, holding open office hours, conducting one-on-one interviews, and meeting with youth at the community center.
“This plan is unique in that it provided a voice to traditionally under-served populations in one of the most populated neighborhoods of South Portland,” said Stephanie Carver, GPCOG Planning Director. “About 90% of the residents are renters and include young families, immigrants, and older residents who are not always involved in local government. We are honored that we brought a stronger voice to the community’s vision and believe our work is already making a difference in South Portland.”
South Portland Planning and Development Director Tex Haeuser noted that many of the Plan’s recommendations have been approved by the City including zoning changes allowing for a denser mixed-use center. Also, new regulations allow for Avesta Housing to actively pursue an affordable, mixed-use housing project in the center of the neighborhood.
“It is a perfect project,” said Haeuser. “The plan lays the groundwork for increasing connectivity and access to other parts of the City, providing more goods and services within walking distance, and enhancing opportunities for recreation and open space.”
GPCOG is also currently leading a Community Development Block Grant-funded neighborhood-wide recreational needs assessment based on the community input and recommendations identified during the West End planning process.
Find out more about the South Portland West End Neighborhood Master Plan and GPCOG’s planning services at www.gpcog.org/community-planning/
Dianna Fletcher, GPCOG Communications Manager
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