2016-09-30 / Community

In the Know

Notes, quotes and news briefs of concern to South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, compiled by staff writer Wm. Duke Harrington.

NEW FOOD — To cast a wider safety net for those in need, the South Portland Food Cupboard will expand its services to Wednesday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. starting Wednesday, Oct. 5.

According to pantry Director Sybil Riemensnider the pilot program is “aimed at the men and women who work full time and cannot access our Thursday morning sharings.” The expanded hours of operation are intended to reach those not currently being helped. Cupboard clients now collecting food on Thursday mornings are not eligible for the Wednesday service, Riemensnider said.

Anyone forced by economic circumstances into a food insecurity situation is welcome to apply over the telephone before stopping in, by calling 874-0379.

AMPITHEATER ARRESTED — The Fort Williams Park Advisory Commission voted 6-1 at its Sept. 15 to not develop and submit to the town council a proposal for an amphitheater.

According to draft minutes of the meeting, the commission based its decision on increased use of the park, the recent opening of the adjacent Children’s Garden, and on feedback from about 30 residents who attended an Aug. 17 public forum on the proposal.

The past winter, the town removed concrete bleachers, built during the parks time as a military base as an observation point for parade exercises and ceremonies. Although most of the seats were in disrepair, with concrete falling off in chunks, one small section used since 1990 for high school graduations, was retained. The full cost to have Mitchell Associates, a Portland landscape architectural firm, demolish the bleachers and rehabilitate the site came to $118,600.

The commission’s plan was to then begin construction on a 350-seat, “grass-and-granite” outdoor amphitheater overlooking the ball field. The Fort Williams Park budget for 2017 included $440,000 for engineering, design and construction of the facility, expected to host concerts and theatrical events, as well as public and private functions. However, a number of speakers at the Aug. 17 forum expressed concern over both the cost of the project, as well as ongoing maintenance issues give possible overuse of the park.

Public Works director Robert Malley, town liaison to the committee, said it will prepare an updated presentation for the council on its long-term vision for the parade ground and ball field site.

NO VAPING ALLOWED — Having recently succeeded in banning smoking from public parks and beaches, as well as tar sands oil, plastic grocery bags, Styrofoam containers, and synthetic pesticides citywide, the South Portland City Council has moved to leap its next regulatory hurdle.

At a workshop session Monday, Sept. 26, the council entertained a presentation by the city’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront, Kevin Adams, and Jana Richards, a public health coordinator for Opportunity Alliance, to ban the use of electronic cigarettes. If adopted by the council, the prohibition bar the practice of “vaping” in all public places where tobacco products are now banned, including parks, beaches, playgrounds and athletic fields. Fines for violators would range as high as $500.

Although e-cigarettes vaporize flavored water instead of burning tobacco, the product still contains nicotine and can serve as a gateway for young people to eventually tobacco use, Richards said.

Exposure to “second-hand smoke” at places like bus stops also was cited as a concern. Although most e-cigarette manufacturers claim the only emission from the product is water vapor, the American Lung Association says, “The aerosol (vapor) emitted by e-cigarettes and exhaled by users contains carcinogens, such as formaldehyde.”

“I think we owe it to our kids to make sure there is not passive smoke in that area where they are going to be waiting 20 minutes in the morning,” said Councilor Claude Morgan. Claude Morgan.

SURE SHOT — Tammy Walter, president of the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club in Cape Elizabeth, won the President’s Award for Volunteer-of-the-Year from the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine. Given on Sept. 10, the award recognizes Walter for her efforts to get a bill passed in the Legislature designed to protect established shooting ranges from some lawsuits and municipal limitations.

“I am humbled by the presentation and thankful for Maine’s independent attitude, outdoor enthusiasts and our lawmakers who recognized the need to protect the dwindling resource of safe, accessible shooting ranges in Maine,” Walter said.

The new law, which limits the power of towns to regulate operation of existing shooting ranges, and clarifies the ban on restricting noise produced at those sites, stemmed from an ongoing conflict between the Spurwink Club, established in 1954, and the adjacent Cross Hill subdivision, a development that began to spring up in the 1990s. Complaints from residents about the gun club date to at least 2009. In March 2014, the town adopted a shooting range ordinance that put the gun club on a year-long path to obtain an operating license from the town. The firing range was shut down last year by police citing safety concerns, but the shorter firing lines have since reopened while the club works to enclose the remaining parts of the facility.

GETTING THERE — The Portland International Jetport, located mostly in South Portland, will expand service to Florida starting Nov. 17.

Elite Airways announced Sept. 14 that traffic for its twiceweekly run to Orlando Melbourne International Airport, launched last fall, has been strong enough to warrant doubling of the service. Flights will now depart on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday, joining Elite Airways new non-stop service to Sarasota-Bradenton.

According to Greg Donovan, executive director of the Orlando Melbourne International Airport, his facility has come a long way since 1928, when the first plane landed on what was then a cow pasture. The airport is “growing as the gateway to Florida,” he said, thanks in part to landing approaches over Florida’s barrier islands and the easy drives to Kennedy Space Center and Walt Disney World that come “without the hassle of larger, congested airports.”

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