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Monn leaves Wilkes for greener pastures

Publisher’s note: Welcome to Perlman’s Potpourri for June — a roundup of news items from the Gateway and Parkrose neighborhoods of mid-Multnomah County from veteran Beat Reporter Lee Perlman.

Coming up, long-time Wilkes Community Group activist Ross Monn says so long to Mid-county for greener pastures and retirement in Spokane, Washington.

The 102nd Avenue Project steams forward, ahead of schedule and on budget, according to project manager Dan Layden. But watch out for traffic tie-ups in July around 102nd Avenue at Halsey and Weidler streets.

Also in Perlman’s Potpourri, have you heard about developers’ requests to lower the open space requirements in Gateway? No? Well it looks like city Senior Planner Barry Manning is going along with the requests.

Regretfully, the Stoll family said goodbye to matriarch Helen Stoll last month.

A bicycle Mecca in Gateway? If backers Gilbert and Robinson have their way, Gateway Green — 37 acres of open space between two major freeways — will draw thousands to its open spaces and bicycle places.

Plus, controversy is simmering over the proposed Gateway Circulator, a Gateway district streetcar that would run between the Gateway Transit Center and Portland Adventist Medical Center.

And finally, city planners are sifting through data collected at open houses to help formulate draft recommendations for the East Portland Plan.

But first, to Ross Monn’s Swan Song ...


So-long Ross Monn
For accomplishing extensive habitat restoration and reclamation work in the Wilkes neighborhood, Ross Monn receives his Neighborhood Beautification Award from Anna Song, mistress of ceremonies for the Mid-county Memo Community Awards event held in 2005.
Ross Monn, chair of the Wilkes Community Group for the last 10 years, is leaving Portland for Spokane due to personal reasons.

Under Monn’s leadership, the association had consistently high meeting attendance with interesting subjects and guest speakers. For instance, earlier this year, in response to concerns raised by several neighbors, he assembled a panel of speakers to talk about urban coyotes and how to deal with them. He was also largely responsible, with the help of numerous partners, for the creation and development of Wilkes Park and Wilkes Natural Area. He was a member of the Public Advisory Group to the Airport Futures planning process; this seat has been assumed by Woodland Park Neighborhood Association Chair Alesia Reese.

Monn was recipient of the 2005 Mid-county Memo Neighborhood Beautification Award.

“My work here wasn’t done, but I’ve left it in good hands,” Monn told the Memo, referring to Wilkes officers Steve Johnson and Kerry Brown. “They’ve really stepped up to the plate.”

102nd Avenue redesign work proceeds
Dan Layden, project manager of the 102nd Avenue Redesign Project, says that the work is on, and possibly even slightly ahead of, schedule.

“It’s going well,” he told the Gateway Urban Renewal District Project Advisory Committee last month. “We’re done with the bones of the construction on the east side,” between East Burnside and Northeast Halsey streets. “What’s left are the (street) lights and pavers, and street trees that will go in this fall. The west side will take longer, but we should be done with major construction by the fall.”

The project is on schedule to meet its July 2009 completion date.

When asked about the effect on traffic, Layden said, “In general it’s gone pretty well.” But he admitted, “There have been a few instances where high winds have blown down our temporary traffic controls.”

The contractors have tried to confine their work hours from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to avoid complicating the worst of the rush hours. There may be more effect in July when the project begins work on the Northeast Halsey Street “jug handle,” necessitating a detour in the turnaround. There could also be some traffic disruption during the painting of stripes on the road, since it would necessitate temporary lane closures.

Gateway PAC member Jackie Putnam spoke approvingly of the street’s new sidewalks. “I’ve seen people walking on parts of this street for the first time,” she said.

Layden also said there would be a block of new sidewalks to Northeast 101st Avenue to facilitate pedestrian movement to the Woodland Park neighborhood. “You are the man!” Woodland Park Chair Alesia Reese told Layden with delight.

The project was originally intended to extend southward to Southeast Washington Street. The city was forced to adopt a phased approach when construction material costs inflated the original budget. Nonetheless, Layden said, the funds available may exceed the Phase I costs by about $500,000. The city intends to use the surplus to do design and engineering work to prepare for Phase II. In the short term, full funding for the second phase is uncertain at best.

“The car? That thing we urge you not to use so much? Well, its use pays for projects like this,” Layden said.

Gateway regulations studied
The city is considering modifications to development regulations in the Gateway Plan District, Senior Planner Barry Manning told the Gateway Urban Renewal Program Advisory Committee last month. Currently, as part of the design review process for developments in Gateway, on sites of 80,000 square feet or larger, developers are normally required to provide half a square foot of open space for every square foot of building area, up to a maximum of 15 percent of the site area. Such large developments are also asked to dedicate land for public streets as part of the area’s Street Master Plan. Some critics feel that the two requirements, taken together, may be unreasonably onerous and may retard development in the area, Manning said. A recommendation on the issue is expected to go before the Portland Planning Commission in late August, and before the City Council in the fall.

Helen Stoll, 1924-2008
Helen Stoll, co-owner of the Norm and Helen Stoll School of Dance, was a businessperson and community activist firmly rooted in the Hollywood neighborhood in middle Northeast Portland. However, a capacity crowd at her public service last month included such Mid-county movers and shakers as Bob Brown of Bob Brown Tire Center and Joe Rossi formerly of Rossi Farms.

She succumbed to stomach cancer on April 14.

Part of the connection was Helen’s son Wayne, long a mainstay of the Parkrose Business Association, and her daughter-in-law Alison, executive director of the Central Northeast Neighbors office (the counterpart to the East Portland Neighborhood Office). The Stoll family owns and manages Argay Square, a business and office complex on Northeast 122nd Avenue, next to the Parkrose Post Office on Shaver Street.

However, Helen herself at times transcended her neighborhood.

She was a fierce and stalwart activist against crime in general, and prostitution and sex-related crime in particular. She was a strong advocate for the city’s prostitution-free zones. She fought against their removal from Hollywood and, last year, their abolition altogether by Mayor Tom Potter. The year before, Potter had a public review of the zones that included three public forums. The third of these, at Vestal School, attracted a significant number of proponents, primarily from east Portland, which caused Potter and City Council to retain the zones in modified form at least temporarily. Critics who called the zones instruments of racism and oppression of the very poor dominated the previous two sessions. Some people who supported the zones confessed later that they were intimidated into remaining silent for fear of being labeled racist. Among the few who did speak out were Helen and her husband, Norm.

Stoll was motivated by the negative effect of sex-related businesses on the surrounding community, but also by compassion for the women involved. On one occasion she gave a prostitute information about the Council for Prostitution Alternatives and was attacked by the woman’s pimp in her own driveway.

Former Hollywood Neighborhood Association Chair Bob Ueland said, “She was the conscience of Hollywood.” Her husband of 58 years Norm, son Wayne, his wife Alison, grandchildren Kaitlyn and Annsley and cousins Gerry Arthur and Peggy Stoll survive her.

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