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Parks to east Portland on levy: 'Never mind'

Editor's note: Welcome to Perlman's Potpourri, news items from across the Gateway and Parkrose neighborhoods of mid-Multnomah County from veteran beat reporter Lee Perlman.

Coming up, The Portland Development Commission is working on making Northeast 97th Avenue between Davis and Glisan streets a Green Street Pilot Project.

After sticking their toes in the water and finding it too cold, Portland Parks & Recreation is declining to move forward with a levy heavy on east Portland projects. The proposed measure would have begun basic construction at four Mid-county park sites, including one, Beech Park, in the Argay neighborhood.

Funding for three concerts at Ventura Park was secured by Hazelwood's über-volunteer, Linda Robinson.
Also in this month's Potpourri, Perlman reports the Portland Bureau of Transportation's Smart Trips Program offers free organized walks and bike rides. The program includes 22 walks in the next few months in Mid-county alone.

And finally, parts of the Centennial and Hazelwood neighborhoods were selected to participate in a pilot project by the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to test food composting as part of curbside waste pickup.

But first, let's see where the Portland Plan is at …

PDC considers Northeast 97th Ave. for Green Street pilot project
The Portland Development Commission is working on making Northeast 97th Avenue between Davis and Glisan streets a Green Street Pilot Project, staffer Sue Lewis told the Gateway Program Advisory Committee last month. The street, now substandard with no paved shoulders or sidewalks, would have plantings for stormwater retention and treatment. She said that the street may become a Woonerf, a European street in which pedestrians and vehicles share the road without benefit of defined sidewalks, but pedestrian traffic is the recognized dominant use.

Ted Gilbert of Gilbert Brothers Commercial noted that fellow developer Gordon Jones owns property to the east of this street. PDC's Justin Douglas suggested this was a significant reason for moving ahead with the project, saying, “We want to invest in areas where property owners are seriously interested in investing.”
PDC investments have already been made to help pay for the $1,157,750 project. The city has received petitions pledging support for a Local Improvement District that would call on adjacent property owners to pay up to $440,000 of the cost. The petitions reflected support from 67 percent of the property ownership (not the same as a majority of property owners) For example; whoever owns the majority of street frontage prevails. It also does not matter what is on the frontage, whether vacant land or houses, what counts is the total frontage. PDC is contributing $324,000 and the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services another $417,000 in a pair of grants. Lewis said that the property is zoned RX and has a maximum floor area ratio of 6-to-1, (a measure of density in relation to lot area.) allowing development as dense as much of downtown.

Parks to bond measure heavy on east Portland projects: 'Never mind'
Commissioner Nick Fish and the Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation have abandoned plans to put a $200 million bond measure before the voters in November. In an April 14 press release Fish and Parks executive director Zari Santner wrote, “The economic climate makes it too difficult to successfully move forward with a bond measure at this time.”

The measure would have paid for repairs to facilities throughout the city, and for the installation of basic park facilities in park-deficient areas. The latter category included $6.1 million for the development of Parklane Park, $1 million for East Holladay Park, $3.8 million for Clatsop Butte, $5.2 million for Beech Park, and $1 million for “Gateway Plaza” on Northeast Halsey Street. Also in the budget was $600,000 to convert wading pools into water features in Clinton, Lents and Ventura parks, $1.2 million for new equipment at the East Portland Community Center and $460,000 to replace old play equipment with new facilities in Berrydale and Argay parks.

The release concluded, “This has never been about 'if,' but 'when' we ask voters for the necessary funding to care for the park system. With strong support from the community, we will look for the right time to ask for their vote.”

Ventura concerts funded
Last month Hazelwood volunteer Linda Robinson triumphantly announced that she had obtained funding for three free concerts in Ventura Park this summer as part of the Portland Parks & Recreation summertime Concerts in the Park series. This will be the third season for such concerts in Ventura Park, the first park east of 82nd Avenue to be included.

The bureau required Hazelwood to raise $9,300 for the events, Robinson told the Hazelwood board. Last year, they received a $2,000 grant that arrived too late to be used for the 2009 concert series, but which gave them a considerable head start on the 2010 venture. Among those who stepped in to help bridge the final funding gap was developer Dick Cooley, who doubled his original pledge, Robinson said.

“This will allow us to have a greater variety of music,” she told the board.

Other recreation programs planned
The Portland Bureau of Transportation's Smart Trips Program offers free organized walks and bike rides. The intent, staffer Scott Cohen told the Gateway Program Advisory Committee last month, is to encourage Portlanders to use means other than private cars to get around. The program includes 22 walks in the next few months in east Portland alone, he said. There are also group bike rides “with no spandex required,” he said. One of these is a Mother's Day ride from Northeast 72nd to 122nd avenues; Hazelwood activist David Hampsten said that this will be “a fairly flat ride with just one hill.”

Hazelwood's Linda Robinson quoted PBOT staffer Rich Cassidy as saying the events draw hikers and riders from all parts of the city, providing an opportunity to show off the area. (For more information visit

Another event Cassidy is personally helping to organize will especially showcase the area: East Portland's Sunday Parkways, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 18. On a circular route utilizing local streets, car traffic will be prohibited, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to tour the area in a safer and more leisurely manner. The east Portland event will proceed along parts of Southeast Bush and Harold streets, the Springwater Corridor and 93rd, 100th and 115th avenues. It will touch on Ed Benedict and Lents parks, Earle Boyles School and the Beggars Tick Wildlife Refuge. Groups and organizations will be encouraged to hold special activities in the parks that day; there will be fees for food vendors, but nonprofits can participate for free. The East Portland Expo will coincide with this event. Volunteers are needed to, among other things, manage barriers at minor intersections. For more information or to sign up for activities call 503-823-6051 or consult

Centennial, Hazelwood do food composting
Parts of the Centennial and Hazelwood neighborhoods were selected to participate in a pilot project by the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to test food composting as part of curbside waste pickup.

Participants will be asked to deposit food wastes and paper products stained with food in their green roll carts, until now reserved exclusively for yard wastes. This, planners hope, will allow such wastes to be converted to fertilizer and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.

The pilot includes 2,000 households located in northeast's Roseway neighborhood, southeast's Richmond and southwest's Arnold Creek in addition to Mid-county. According to project spokesperson Julia Thompson, the areas involved were selected in part on the advice of waste haulers, with the intent of creating geographic and economic diversity.

Some people have expressed concern that the food waste will produce smells and attract raccoons and other scavengers. Thompson pointed out that food wastes are currently deposited for curbside pickup in residents' primary garbage receptacles and that if they do not produce such problems now they probably won't under the new system.

A bigger change may be frequency of service. For some of the pilot project households, garbage and recycling pickups will occur every other week. For households with weekly pickup, it is hoped that the diversion of food wastes will reduce their total garbage to the point where semi-monthly service can accommodate it. If not, they can get a larger garbage can for a few dollars more. As a last result, they can retain weekly pickup service for double their previous rate. Those with monthly service prior to the pilot will see their rates go up $2.50 a month in exchange for the more frequent service.

Information released by the city said that the program was discussed with affected neighborhood associations prior to general public announcements. However, in the case of Hazelwood, only chair Arlene Kimura was notified; scheduling did not permit city representatives to meet with the general membership prior to the start of the program, and city representatives declined to meet with the board alone in April.

The city has for years provided food waste pickup for restaurants, hotels and institutions. A longtime issue relating to large-scale composting is that its cost-effectiveness is reduced by the distance the food waste must be transported. Until recently they were trucked hundreds of miles away to a facility in Washington. An attempt three years ago to set up a food composting facility in the Wilkes neighborhood was abandoned in the face of opposition by nearby residents. According to Curbside Recycling Program staffer Babe O'Sullivan, there is still no food waste processing facility in Portland proper. However, Allied Waste now runs such a facility in Benton County near Corvallis; R.R.C. Recology, formerly Norcal Waste, has a plant in Aumsville near North Plains in Washington County; and a new plant is planned for McMinnville, she told the Memo.
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