Urban renewal was disaster for Westbrook

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This is addressed to Henry Saunders, who spoke last week to the Rotary Club of Westbrook-Gorham. Saunders was vice chairman of the Westbrook Urban Renewal Authority. 

Dear Mr. Saunders,

I find it hard to believe that you are still so proud of the mess that you and your cronies made of our beautiful city. I was one of those many businesses that you ran out of town that you are so proud of.

Have you ever been to Freeport, Maine? If not, you should. When and if you do, spend the day there and look around and think what you destroyed in Westbrook. The city of Westbrook could have been another Freeport. You folks wouldn’t listen to the people of Westbrook. You destroyed historic buildings. You destroyed buildings that could have been saved to there original character. You ran businesses out of town. You made businesses over extend themselves trying to be part of Urban Renewal and bankrupt them. Look around Mr. Saunders, there isn’t a business here that was there back then.

Back then I was elected president of the Westbrook Business Men’s Association and I was challenged to try to bring life back to our downtown. I brought in the Farmers Market. I brought in concerts. I brought in RV shows. I brought in auto and truck shows. Back then Bill O’Gara was the mayor of Westbook and he did everything he could to help me bring all this activity back to downtown to no avail.

After all these years and looking back at what you did, you are still unable to admit what a disaster and mistake urban renewal was to our city. As I look at your picture at age 90, you haven’t changed much in looks or your attitude way back then. You destroyed our city’s history, and this you are proud of.

Philip Galipeau
Westbrook