2016-05-06 / Letters

Neighborhood shouldn’t be referred to as ‘ghetto’

To the editor:

Last month the South Portland Planning Board held a public hearing on a proposed market rate residential development in the Brick Hill neighborhood. I was shocked to hear the chairman of the board refer to Brick Hill as a ghetto. It was sort of a backhanded compliment to the developer: Chairman William Laidley praised the developer’s proposal by saying it would make the neighborhood less of a ghetto, which implies that it’s a ghetto currently.

The chairman admitted his language was harsh. But it wasn’t just harsh, it was untrue.

I’ve lived in Brick Hill for 10 years. It’s not a ghetto. It’s a vibrant, green, safe, well-kept neighborhood. My neighbors are hardworking people who want nothing more than a safe affordable place to raise their families.

I have never felt like I was living in a ghetto. I don’t think we even have any ghettos in South Portland. We certainly shouldn’t be suggesting to the world that one of our most vibrant neighborhoods is a place to be feared and avoided.

From an economic development standpoint, luring prospective businesses and developers to this beautiful mixed use neighborhood becomes a much greater challenge with that negative connotation hanging over us.

I wonder what it’s like for the kids in my neighborhood when they go to school and a classmate from a different neighborhood says, “My mom was watching public access last night and that guy on TV said your neighborhood is a ghetto.”

It’s also worth noting that Brick Hill has a larger minority population than any other neighborhood in the city. These folks face enough obstacles already without a city leader suggesting that they’re ghetto dwellers.

I hope the chairman’s remark was simply a faulty choice of words and that it wasn’t indicative of how the planning board or the broader South Portland community view the Brick Hill neighborhood.

Adrian Dowling South Portland

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