By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
Signs, signs, everywhere there’s a sign. XXX* the scenery, breaking my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign? (*XXX for those 60 and older who still find now common, everyday words offensive.)
Not so many years ago, signs were a limited part of the landscape. Signs on roads indicated speed limits, destinations directions and exits. Signs at sporting events directed you to your seat section, either the little boys’ or little girls’ bathrooms and various concession counters.
Lastly, there was the sign people live to ignore—the grocery express line. I always wonder what percentage of those using this line are at or below the items allowed.
Lately it has been necessary that Lewiston add additional signage throughout the city. In order to accomplish this, we have increased the number of sign poles throughout the downtown. Each of these poles contains a myriad of directional signs. There are so many signs that if they were in the shape of arrows, their numbers would pale in the amount of arrows used against Custer and his men at The Battle of Little Big Horn.
An overabundance of signs tends to create confusion and ultimately become invisible. During a recent mayoral election, one of the candidates placed a large amount of signs on several traffic islands located on Russell Street. I received a complaint about the number of signs that were being displayed. When I asked the candidate’s name, the lady replied, “I don’t know; it’s the one that has all the signs.”
Currently we are in the process of recreating and revitalizing our downtown and Riverwalk areas. In order to provide a unique and memorable experience, painted streets, mural sidewalks and themed crosswalks will grace the downtown. For those people coming to enjoy our restaurants, festivals and riverfront scenery, this should maximize the beauty and the many amenities our downtown/riverfront has to offer.
But to successfully accomplish this, we have to drive the indolent from our city. These are not the working poor. They are the people under their mid-60s who survive exclusively on government aid. These are the people who party all day and night, but have multiple disabilities, which exempt them from any kind of work.
We must also lose our reputation as being a center for those illegally in our country, seeking asylum. They overstay their visas and apply for asylum or they find their way across our borders, settling into communities that contain neighborhoods of their countrymen.
In Maine this results in Lewiston taxpayers paying up to 75% of these asylum seekers’ needs while the State of Maine pays 25%, in some cases, of the cost needed to provide for these needs.
All this while the federal government taxes our citizenry for looking the other way.
In Lewiston we are making progress on housing and attracting new businesses. At least that’s what I thought. After a meeting last week it became clear that we are woefully behind most areas of our state. They are growing while we struggle to find and create more housing for the indolent.
It is time to stop the free lunch and take back our city.