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Sacramento school creates rain garden

Editor’s note: For your reading pleasure, we present Perlman’s Potpourri — a roundup of news items from the Gateway and Parkrose neighborhoods of Mid-Multnomah County from veteran Beat Reporter Lee Perlman.

Perlman starts with Sacramento Elementary School’s recently created rain garden — a collaborative creative effort by school administrators, parents, local businesses and volunteers.

Next, Perlman updates us on the situation he featured in a story in the September Mid-county Memo “Bus restaurant riles Argay neighborhood.” Keep reading future issues of the Memo as this feud has been temporarily suspended.

Perlman keeps us apprised on the efforts of the Portland’s Parks & Recreation Bureau to begin planning for three long neglected Mid-county properties.

In Gateway urban renewal news, the Portland Development Commission and the City Council continue to look at how they will use the proposed new Affordable Housing Set-Aside fund.

Last, Perlman reports that Ted Gilbert, owner of the hole in the ground across from the Gateway Fred Meyer has agreed to create a master plan for the property. An option city planners have long encouraged Gilbert to do.


Sacramento school creates rain garden
Students, parents, teachers and many supporters of Sacramento Elementary School have redone the property’s north side as a community gathering space, with a central rain garden.

Principal Stevie Blakely “saw value in having a garden for instructional purposes,” spokesperson Paul Crowley told the Memo, “so we started doing some research.” They devised a plan, and received a $5,000 grant from the Lowes Home Improvement chain and additional support from the Parkrose Educational Foundation. Parkrose Hardware and Rainbird Sprinkler Systems donated equipment. Nevue Ngan Associates, a landscape architecture firm, was hired to do the planning for the project, but performed work “over and above their contract,” Crowley said. The work crew included volunteers from all segments of the school community, as well as members of the Parkrose School Board.

The finished product covers an area of 150 by 50 feet, with paved paths, gathering spaces and plazas. In the center is the garden, a 700-square-foot area of raised planting beds irrigated by runoff from the building. Different classes have planted and taken responsibility for different beds.

The work is “essentially done,” Crowley said, and will be marked by a grand opening in the spring. The school is looking for a licensed plumber to install a sprinkler system.

Parks to pursue east Portland master plans
Linda Robinson, Hazelwood Neighborhood Association Parks Committee chair, announced last month that the Portland Bureau of Parks & Recreation plans to pursue a master plan process for three east Portland properties: Park Lane, Beach and Clatsop Butte. Under bureau procedures, the process is a prerequisite to any capital improvements to the properties, Robinson said at Hazelwood’s January meeting.

Arlene Kimura, Hazelwood chair, said that Clatsop Butte, a natural area, is currently being badly abused. The use of dirt bikes is doing harm to the area, and some park users cut down trees and built a shelter in their stead for paintball games. Park Lane is a 20-acre former gravel pit in the Centennial neighborhood.

In other park news, Robinson said that construction of a 10,000 square-foot skateboard facility at Glenhaven Park, on Northeast 82nd Avenue, is currently underway, and that work should begin this summer on a swimming pool at the East Portland Community Center.

Bus restaurant shut, gets reprieve
Jorge Blackmore in front of his bus restaurant, El Carreton, on Northeast Sandy Boulevard at 141st Avenue, last summer. This fast-food restaurant at one of the street entrances to the Argay neighborhood has irritated neighborhood leaders who think it an eyesore and are actively trying to shut it down.
El Carreton, the bus that has operated as a fast-food Mexican restaurant on Northeast Sandy Boulevard and 141st Avenue for several months, was out of action as we went to press, but legally still alive.

Critics, including the Argay Neighborhood Association and Venture Inn Sports Bar & Tavern owner Karl Kunberger, have claimed that the enterprise is an eyesore that detracts from the neighborhood and violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. Owner Jorge Blackmore claims he is providing low-cost, nutritious food for Latinos and others, and property owner Randy Slipher says the man is a hard-working entrepreneur who is being unfairly picked on.

The business has been in operation since March 2006. Blackmore has met the demands of regulatory agencies such as the Portland Bureau of Development Services and the Multnomah County Health Department, often by bringing the business into compliance after being cited. (Running hot water was a later addition.) At one point BDS’s Rebecca Esau gave Blackmore temporary permission to continue operating, but also gave him a list of improvements he would have to install within six months. These included additional landscaping, an access ramp and awning, and approval for all aspects of the operation from BDS inspectors.

In December El Carreton shut down, and remained shut. In mid-January panels locked in place prevented access to the bus. A trench has been dug, but the landscaping is not in place, and a required outdoor toilet (a source of irritation to the Argay Association) was gone. According to Kunberger, an awning blew away in a winter storm.

But is this the end of El Carreton?

Legally at least, no.

According to one BDS official, with the deadline for compliance looming, Blackmore told bureau officials that he needed an operation and appealed for more time to meet their demands. BDS planner Nan Stark (unavailable for comment at press time) gave Blackmore another six months to achieve compliance. In the meantime, he can return and resume business.

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