2014-11-07 / Community

Second Summit Terrace meeting is this week

By Jason Glynn
Contributing Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND – Suggestions for how to use a parcel of land off Summit Terrace have ranged from building a parking garage, housing, and adding gardens – to doing nothing at all.

Community members were engaged by Hardypond Construction and Kaplan Thompson Architects at an open meeting in the Betsy Ross House Community Room on Oct. 16 about how to use the undeveloped 6.5-acre parcel of land owned by Quireno Lucarelli.

The next community meeting on the matter will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, after the Sentry’s deadline.

Frank Carr, director of business development for Hardypond Construction in Portland, said he was there to “seek input and address concerns,” from the public. He was joined by Jesse Thompson, a partner of Kaplan Thompson Architecture. Hardypond and Kaplan were hired by Lucarelli to look into possible residential development options. There was not an empty seat in the house and people were bunched up around doors.

According to numerous attendees, there was a deficit of trust between neighbors and Lucarelli, and as such, the meeting was as much about building trust as it was about the project.

Lucarelli owns Summit Terrace Apartments and a sizeable chunk of land around it. Recently, he put a fence around the entire property, much to the chagrin of surrounding neighbors, according to former District 1 City Councilor Michael Pock. The fence blocks access to trails and shortcuts used by neighbors.

There was a four-story, 56-unit building planned to be built on the property in 2003, but it did not happen because Lucarelli did not have a second exit to the land. However, since then he has acquired land that abuts the property, Pock said.

Carr reached out to community members before the meeting to seek input and said he received “20 to 30 emails about suggestions, issues, interests and concerns.” Thompson and Carr sought to streamline the process by putting all of these individual concerns on sticky notes and affixing them to a whiteboard in an attempt to keep them organized.

“I want to make sure we capture the specifics,” Carr said.

“We want to rank and address all of your concerns,” Thompson added.

To rank concerns and ideas, Carr gave everyone six sticky-dots, and the goal was for community members to place a dot on an issue important to them. However, District 1 City Councilor-elect Claude Morgan asked, “Are there even enough dots for everyone to get six each.”

Carr said he underestimated the turnout.

“Our goal was to start figuring out ranking issues … what to focus on, and since there’s a lot on here, we wouldn’t want to give them all equal focus … it’s a diverse community and everyone is going to have diverse thoughts,” Thompson said.

The ranking exercise did not happen at the meeting.

“From my perspective we’ve been presented with a bunch of choices … and many of those choices are false choices … one way to start the narrowing process are to pluck all the choices that can’t happen there. They’re scary, I think we all get it … so could you as the developers, you should have a fair understanding of the codes, ordinances, and zoning to eliminate most of those. I’m not sure why many are even up there other than for the shock value,” Morgan said. Some of the “shocking” suggestions included a parking garage.

“One of our interests was that there are things here that the developer could probably legally do but probably shouldn’t … so if we just went by the letter of the law there’d be many people in here whose interests wouldn’t be addressed,” Thompson said.

“This is a process and is going to take time,” Carr said. “We’re not trying to waste your time here, but we’re not going to steamroll this process.”

He added that the land will not be developed into an office building or warehouse space and will most likely be residential.

Area resident and Casco Bay High School teacher Susan McCray, said, “I think that we should set a date for the next meeting and get a larger space, and (Hardypond’s) homework should be that you go through these suggestions and remove the ones that can’t happen as the law reads now … I think part of what you’re hearing here is that there’s tension in the room, and that’s because we’re fearful, we love our neighborhood … we’re the type of people that come to meetings … we care … we hear development and we get scared.”

Hardypond surveyor Bob Gaudreau tried to alleviate tension in the room.

“We have work to do, we need to build your trust and that’s on us. This can be a really great project, but we want it to be a shared vision.”

“This land went from a piggery … with pigs running wild … to a housing development, and that led to a cell tower that nobody wanted, and then Lucarelli put up a fence that nobody wanted … so you know, talk about change over the years … there’s a lot of history here and we don’t change that easily, but this community is open to change,” Pock said.

Return to top