|Halsey-Weidler corridor revitalization money grows to $1.6 million
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
On July 21, the money piled into the corridors corner tripled, rising from $500,000 to $1.6 million in the blink of a bureaucrats eye.
The money will be used to add safety features and revitalize the lackluster couplet that stretches from Northeast 102nd to 112th avenues on Northeast Halsey and Weidler streets. On most days, cars whiz by, often oblivious to the small businesses dotting the streets and wary pedestrians trying to cross two busy lanes of traffic.
Susan Kuhn, a project manager with the Portland Development Commission, announced the new total at a meeting of the 15-member Halsey-Weidler working group who sat around a table at the East Portland Neighborhood Office, munching sandwiches and looking as pleased as card players just dealt winning hands.
Nevue Ngan Associates, the landscape architecture firm hired by PDC to devise plans over the past few months, base the cost estimate of just over $1.6 million for the project on a conceptual design. Were just a little bit short, but were going to get pretty much what we want, all the priorities without you having to choose between 108th and 112th or between trees or lights, Kuhn told the group.
Based on the conceptual design and cost estimate, the project will now include four curb extensions along Northeast Halsey Street at Northeast 103rd, 106th, 108th and 112th avenues, as well as pedestrian lights on two corners and trees on the other two corners.
Northeast Weidler Street will receive curb extensions on two corners at each of those intersections, but no lights or trees; however, both Northeast Halsey and Weidler streets will receive curb extensions at all four corners of Northeast 106th Avenue, a pedestrian flashing beacon and striping for the crosswalks as part of the plan. State funding through the Portland Bureau of Transportation pays for the pedestrian flashing beacons and possibly two curb extensions at Northeast Halsey Street.
The $1.6 million funding does not cover improvements to the two triangles, at the east and west ends of the corridor, at Northeast 102nd and Northeast 112th avenues, nor will it pay for street furniture, such as benches, trashcans or bike racks.
The new total includes the $500,000 from PDCs Gateways Regional Center Urban Renewal fund of tax-increment money budgeted for the couplet in June. PBOT chipped in the additional money from its system development charges at a two-to-one matching rate.
PBOT is entering into an intergovernmental agreement with PDC, taking over the design phase of the project sometime in August. Engineering and contract bidding will take eight or nine months, with construction scheduled to begin next spring. Kuhn added PBOT plans to engineer the whole streetscape vision to show they are ready to proceed if new funds become available.
Besides the PDC and PBOT funding, there is the possibility of more money arriving from community grants, other city bureaus and other sources. When they get to a certain point well bring it back to this group so you can see what we can do and what the final costs are going to be, Kuhn said.
She suggested community members apply for the PDC Community Livability Grant program, a competitive grant available throughout the Gateway Regional Center URA. The amount for fiscal year 2014-2015 is $75,000. There is no guarantee that CLG funds will be awarded to this project nor is there a guarantee of any specific amount, Kuhn told the Memo. In the past we have awarded funds to multiple applicants, so the $75,000 amount is likely to be spread out among several projects.
The deadline to apply for the grant is September 26, 2014. If not all of the 2014-2015 grant money is awarded, it is likely PDC staff will request funds be carried forward into the following years budget, she said.
Once a project is awarded a grant through the program, additional requirements may apply to the next application.
Kuhn suggested that the Gateway community look for other funding sources as well, such as Metros Nature in Neighborhoods Capital Grant and grants available through Venture Portland, a nonprofit that assists businesses.
Ben Ngan, owner of Nevue Ngan Associates, told the working group that the current design draft plan targeted the larger, more difficult improvements along the corridor. Were talking about hard-built improvements, Ngan said. Nothings been budgeted for street furnishings, like benches and trash cans. Weve decided to leave that as lower hanging fruit that possibly the community can come behind and support because we want to build the things that cost the most, that are the hardest to realize. Its easier to get a garbage can with a small group. Its harder to build intersection improvements as a small group.
Group members decided one of their first steps should be to create a cohesive branding and identity for the corridor area, which can be used in much of the art and design work throughout the couplet.
They also created subcommittee categories, which individual members volunteer to work on. They include:
Street furniture, trashcans, benches, bike racks, street banners, signage, flower baskets and electrical charging stations, art and identity in the newly proposed Gateway Park on Northeast 106th and Halsey Street.
One suggestion was to create a water feature or sculpture using the Gateway arch design which long symbolized the Gateway area.
Options for the triangles located at the east and west end of the corridor: possibly larger community projects to be located in triangles that can be broken down into phases in order to apply for PDC grant funding; corridor identity and branding and design criteria, and cultural art project: create ways to honor community diversity. One suggestion was a Vietnam memorial, which could be located in one triangle, the park, or some other location.
Two members of the group, Nidal Kahl and Ted Vogelpohl, volunteered to co-facilitate the working group as it convenes over the next several months. They suggested members indicate which areas they would like to work on.
During the meeting, a few participants suggested possible improvements for the two triangles on the east and west ends of the corridor.
Vietnamese immigrant Thuy Tran suggested creating a Vietnam memorial in the east triangle. Tran said the Gateway, Parkrose and David Douglas communities are extremely diverse, and include many immigrants, refugees and [Vietnam] veterans. She suggested a piece of artwork honoring them, as well as her parents generation would be appropriate. This art work will be a draw for other people in other cities, other states, other communities to come into Gateway and it will help highlight the diversity and the history that is in our community, Tran said. I think its an economic draw to our area because its very unique.
Christopher Masciocchi, a graphic designer and a member of the working group, suggested a sculptured water feature in the shape of an arch be placed in the proposed Gateway Park. The water feature would symbolize the Gateway arch that previously stood at the west entrance to the corridor but was demolished during a major makeover of the Gateway Shopping Center in February 1991. If we put it in the park, theres a little bit of discoverability, Masciocchi said. You have to go to the park to see this thing and if it is part of a water feature, you can interact with it. Its not just something youre seeing.
Passing a photo around of a fountain that sprayed water in the shape of an arch, Masciocchi suggested children could play in such a fountain that would become an iconic image for the community. Theres your branding, he said. You got it back. He also suggested creating a historical memorial to David Douglas in the east triangle near a large Douglas fir tree that grows there.
Ngan advised creating a timeline showing the history of the Gateway area, incorporating the Vietnam memorial, the David Douglas memorial and other important events. It starts to push you into the realm of a pedestrian plaza, Ngan said.
Heather Hoell, executive director of Venture Portland, presented a slide show of various neighborhoods in Portland, showing how they had branded themselves with a certain identity and created outdoor artwork and signage. Many recruited community volunteers to clean up trash and graffiti in the area. Members of the working group discussed ways to maintain and clean up areas along the corridor.
Hoell noted that one path to building an image for the area is to Say we want everything to be branded and to create the sense of place and sense of identity; and if you want to do that, then thats probably the place you want to start, so that then informs how you think about creating a memorial or creating a trash can or a banner.
The next meeting of the working group is Monday, Aug. 4 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at the East Portland Neighborhood Office, 1017 N.E. 117th Ave. The public is invited to attend.
For more information, contact Susan Kuhn at 503- 823-3406 or email@example.com
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