Portland activist Jay York makes his case for Congress Square Park

Jay York with his dog Tucker on Congress Street.

Jay York with his dog Tucker on Congress Street.

Jay York is an outspoken member of the Bayside Neighborhood Association in Portland. He owns a home in Bayside, undoubtedly the city’s most troubled neighborhood, and is deeply ingrained in the fabric of his community.

Here is his take on the city’s attempt to sell Congress Square Park:

The City Council’s Housing and Community Development Committee appointed the Congress Square Redesign Study Group in April, 2010 to develop solutions for improving the square. The group discussed the plaza’s design problems and its lack of attention by the city. They recommended hiring a landscape architect and the city allocated $50,000 and drafted an RFP (request for proposal).

But the city never moved forward with it and the committee stopped meeting.

At that same time Rockbridge Capital was buying the hotel and someone in city government (no one will admit to it) came up with the idea of approaching Rockbridge about buying the plaza.

A number of members of the Congress Square Redesign Study Group opposed this and they formed the Friends of Congress Square Park. They did not come to this late and are not constraining democracy.

They saw the public discussion of this issue being manipulated by the City. Specifically the idea that no changes to Congress Square Park would happen unless 2/3 of the area were sold to private corporation.

The City was considering just these kinds of changes to improve the square before Rockbridge came into the picture.

Our elected city officials don’t always make the right decisions and it’s unfortunate that the elections process doesn’t hold them accountable.

Please vote “YES” next Tuesday, June 10th, to send a strong message to the Portland City Council that they cannot obstruct, manipulate, and censor the will of the people.

Yes this is about saving Congress Square from being sold to a private corporation.

Yes this is about protecting other public places from being sold at the whim of City Council.

Yes this is for keeping Portland a great place to live for future generations!

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.