The City of Portland has discontinued public use and rental of a second floor community space at the Harry E. Cummings Center at 134 Congress St. in Portland, according to Portland Recreation & Facilities Management’s Director of Recreation, Nick Cliche.
The news of the space, used for decades as a community meeting spot for Munjoy Hill and Portland’s East End, came through indirect channels and was verified only once The Observer reached out to Sally DeLuca, Director of the city’s Recreation and Facilities.
According to Cliche, the City had no choice but to discontinue the space’s public use due to a new, half-million dollar citywide emergency command center being installed for Portland’s fire department and first responder agencies. Installation of multiple server racks was ongoing this Wednesday with contractors from Motorola working on the second-floor space.
The closure leaves East End Community School as Munjoy Hill and the East End’s only public, open-use indoor space. Cliche says the monthly luncheons for the Senior Adult Program have already been transitioned to the school.
While the closure may not be a major loss for public indoor use due to the East End School space, it comes during a series of other public-impacting decisions unknown to, and not coordinated with, Portland’s neighborhood and community organizations which typically partner to help the City in its public messaging. The fencing of the Eastern Promenade Community Gardens, public works activity closing sections of Congress Street and other City decisions are among those actions taken with little to no messaging to the community or its neighborhood organizations.
While the Command Center may be the largest change to the Cummings Center, it comes in addition to other, as yet publicly announced changes. The City’s Recreation and Facilities Management headquarters, currently based on the first floor of the Cummings Center, will soon relocate to the city’s Canco Road facility with Munjoy Hill’s Community Policing office moving in. Munjoy Hill Community Policing recently vacated its Atlantic Street office it leased from the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization.