“I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it.”
Carl Sandburg, American poet and writer
Last weekend I was decidedly bored and decided to take a ride on the back roads in Windham. I was definitely surprised to see all of the new construction that’s happening. It’s not that I think all of that new construction of houses is bad, but rather what will the consequences of it be in the future? People need jobs and the growth of a municipality ensures that to some degree. However, the same thing happened in my hometown and the traffic congestion convinced me not to settle there. The construction of a shopping mall was beginning when I went into the military and is probably still going on today. Places that I used to hike and hunt became areas of houses and apartments, which only enhanced my desire not to return there.
I have to wonder if the very same thing is happening now in Windham. My wife and I moved to Windham in 1999 and are happy with the improvements to the North Windham business area. The increased selection of places to shop means that I do not have to go places I detest, like the Maine Mall for instance. If someone else likes to shop at the Maine Mall, that’s fine with me. I just don’t like crowds and I am sure the Vietnam War only reinforced that thought in my mind as I never liked crowds in the first place. But as growth happens, traffic congestion increases as well and just like my hometown, what has our local, county and state government done about it in Windham? The answer is nothing substantial and we all know that it will only get worse, not better.
It’s already a shame that I can go to Gorham to do my grocery shopping (don’t worry, I don’t go there that much) and contend with far less traffic than I would suffer in North Windham. It’s not that I don’t shop in North Windham because I do, but I do my best to plan when traffic and school buses are at a minimum if that even exists anymore. Sadly, the Maine Department of Transportation is replacing a bridge in Gorham and Route 202 will be blocked for a few months but the detour isn’t that bad and hopefully it’s well marked. I have noticed that at times the tractor-trailer traffic on Route 202 increases and I am sure that relates to the Maine State Police on Interstate 95 with their Commercial Vehicle Enforcement vehicles. I wonder how that will affect traffic on Route 202 as well.
Now back to Windham, I rode around several different side roads and was surprised about the amount of building that is going on in Windham. I see nothing in the local news about how this is going to impact local schools, services like fire and rescue or other services the town provides its citizens. Without a doubt this increase in housing will have a significant impact by increasing the property taxes of every property owner in Windham. I have to wonder if anyone in Windham government, municipal or schools, even cares because I certainly haven’t witnessed anything to date.
We already know that Route 302 gets busier as every summer goes by. At what point does all the new construction of housing in Windham finally reach the point of making going anywhere in Windham seem like one is traveling at a snail’s pace? What might be far worse, has anyone seen government at any level planning for it? I remember some years ago Windham looked at creating so-called bypasses to avoid the traffic on Route 302. Just in case one hasn’t noticed, that project fell flat on its face and went absolutely nowhere. It means the traffic problem gets worse without future planning for all roads in town.
Lane Hiltunen of Windham believes that the relationship of Windham to EcoMaine is the primary reason for a lack of a transfer station.