The Mid-county Memo is your newspaper. We want to hear from you. Discuss an important issue, respond to a request for comment or address a concern you want to call to the attention of the community. Letters to the editor will always be edited for space, style, grammar and issues of clarity. Please include your full name and identify the neighborhood in which you reside. We prefer e-mailed letters to the editor sent to Darlene Vinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please put “Letter to the editor” in the subject line. You may also mail your letter to 3510 N.E. 134th Ave., Portland, OR 97230 or fax it to 503-249-7672. Deadline for the March issue is Monday, Feb. 15.
No arm-twisting involved
To the editor:
I read with great interest the article in the Memo on the naming of two parks in the area (“Parks process poor on public involvement” MCM January 2016). I was part of the naming committee for the Gateway park. I applied to be on the naming committee and also submitted two suggestions for naming the park. I attended the meetings and we discussed all the options and presented additional naming options. In the end, we reached consensus on a name and forwarded it to Portland Parks and Recreation for approval. At no time was there any arm-twisting as described in the article. Hun Taing did a good job facilitating the group. The naming group participants are representative of the community. I represent my neighborhood and have done so since moving to Gateway in 1996. I was on the Gateway Urban Renewal Advisory Committee beginning in 1996 and served in many leadership roles, including chair and co-chair. I was actively involved working with PDC to purchase the property and helped with the master plan for the site. I was also on the committee to design the park for the site. I have been on the Hazelwood Neighborhood Board for many years. Every person on the Gateway naming committee has long term interests in the area. I wish the Memo would have done more research on the Gateway naming committee; if they had, they would have learned about the dedicated volunteers serving on the committee.
Novick’s decision degrades neighborhood livability
To the editor:
Misinformation has a habit of becoming fact if left unchallenged. To avoid that happening, someone has to respond to Commissioner Steve Novick’s answers to the questions at the end of January article “Conflicting Safety Studies Dismissed.” The title and the article are spot on, but the commissioner’s response is not accurate.
While this letter is written as a private individual and reflects only my opinions, while serving for most of the last two years as the Land Use and Transportation Chair and as a board member of the Argay Terrace Neighborhood Association (ATNA), I dealt with the various development plans for the Castlegate Apartment site from the beginning. In all fairness to the commissioner, since he has ignored the neighborhood during his term, I doubt he was involved in “his response”; but the staff member who did write it showed the unfamiliarity of the commissioner’s office with the issues. Some points which need to be set straight:
• ATNA had very little contact with the commissioner or his staff until November 2015, when an appearance before city council made ignoring us impossible—or so we thought.
• The few exchanges since have been unproductive. Those contacting the commissioner’s office get a polite, one-sentence “thank you” or, at most, a response showing that the staff accepts whatever the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) says, regardless of evidence to the contrary.
• For more than six months, every ATNA request to meet with the commissioner was rejected. ATNA was still attempting to arrange a meeting with members of PBOT and Novick’s staff to work out a solution when ATNA learned of his decision to approve the site plan. ATNA was never told a decision was in process.
• PBOT “worked closely” with ATNA? This is hard to support if you have been following the issue or been to an ATNA meeting. PBOT announced what it intended to do and when asked for support for a decision; in most cases, generalized reasons were put forth rather than references to specific code sections or policy statements which we could study further.
• As to working toward a shared “goal of ensuring neighborhood safety and livability,” this is where political rhetoric takes over and reality is lost. That goal is what this fight has been all about, and the city is on the other side of that fight. Ensuring neighborhood safety and livability is the major purpose for which the neighborhood association exists. From the beginning, the ATNA and neighborhood have fought against PBOT’s actions, which we are sure will harm the livability and decrease the safety of our neighborhood. Routing hundreds of vehicle trips a day more than one mile on residential streets, past hundreds of homes, makes a neighborhood safer and more livable? To PBOT and Commissioner Novick, apparently it does.
• I agree with the statement that it has been a long and frustrating experience. Certainly it has been for Argay Terrace families as they fight their own city to protect the safety and livability of their neighborhood.
• I disagree that the “technical engineering reports added confusion instead of clarity.” The reports are very clear and easily understood. What isn’t clear is why PBOT based its decision on a report which does not conform to PBOT’s own safety standards, while having in its possession a report from its own engineers, done to PBOT standards, which suggested Northeast 148th Avenue was safe.
• What is confusing is why PBOT developed a plan to route the traffic through Argay Terrace when it had no data (that we know of) on the impact of that route on the neighborhood. Furthermore, the data it had regarding the safety of Northeast 148th Avenue as an access was suspect and did not meet the city’s own standards.
• The result of this process is that Commissioner Novick has given his approval and endorsement to a plan to route all of traffic from a major apartment complex through one mile of the streets of a residential neighborhood instead of directly to the arterial street which fronts the apartment complex. The final decision was made based on incomplete and disputed data, without discussion with ATNA and Argay Terrace residents, and the decision was made hastily and secretively. As of today, PBOT and Commissioner Novick continue to defend their actions. Should this be how “The City That Works” works for its residents? While the article and my response refer to only one neighborhood, I don’t think Argay Terrace was singled out. But if this is business as usual for the city, watch out—your neighborhood could be next.
Argay Terrace resident
Editor’s note: Brown resigned from his position as Argay Terrace Neighborhood Association Land Use Chair in January; however, he continues to lobby for his neighborhood as a private citizen.