|ODOT slow walking Gateway Green Project
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
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 Gateway Green project receives its first infusion of cash from the city as part of the East Portland Action Plan.
Originally adopted in 1996, the city is in the process of updating and expanding its Bicycle Master Plan.
Also in this month's Potpourri, Perlman reports on the Portland International Airport Citizen Noise Advisory Committee, which gathered last month at Helensview High School in Mid-county to listen to F-15 supersonic jet fighter maneuvers to help determine if they are too loud for future training over PDX.
Next, Bonny McKnight's crusade to remake the East Portland Neighborhood Office to her liking was daunted, but will never be abandoned, as the debate goes on at the next meeting. It will continue as long as she's around.
Plus, the Oregon Department of Transportation begins construction of a pedestrian barrier/fence on 82nd Avenue, despite some ongoing objections to the plan.
Making way for a future park, the demolition of the former J. J. North's building at 105th and Northeast Halsey Street is on schedule and could begin post-haste.
And finally this month, Senior Planner Barry Manning, instrumental in shepherding the East Portland Action Plan to fruition, was transferred to North Portland last month.
But first, the Gateway Green project gets its own chunk of green
Gateway Green receives planning funds
The Portland City Council officially conveyed funds last month for the planning of Gateway Green.
The $45,000 grant was part of $500,000 that council earmarked last year for short-term improvement projects as part of the East Portland Action Plan.
Gateway Green is a 35-acre expanse of vacant land between the I-84 and I-205 freeways owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The volunteer Friends of Gateway Green, led by developer Ted Gilbert and Hazelwood activist Linda Robinson, want to make the parcel a haven for bike riding and other recreational activities, with an alternative energy facility. This is an opportunity to make a place that will enhance Gateway as a regional center, city Senior Planner Barry Manning told council.
Both Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Randy Leonard said that when Gilbert first approached them about the project, they thought it was a major challenge. I didn't realize that all I'd have to do was sit here and say, 'Aye,' Leonard said. He hooked up with Linda, who is a one-person powerhouse, and Barry.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz said, This is a citizen-driven project. This is a very special area, and we need to get it going. The folks in east Portland have been waiting their turn for a long time, and now they're getting their turn.
Gilbert told council, I've been working on the Gateway Regional Center for 12 years, and the single biggest thing working against us has been the public perception of the area. We hope that this project will be a rebranding tool. He thanked Adams and Commissioner Nick Fish for their support.
Fish, who is responsible for the Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation, announced that Governor Ted Kulongoski has made Gateway Green a project of the state's Oregon Solutions program. This is a happy day, he said. We don't have two better, more passionate volunteers than Linda and Ted. They are wonderful cheerleaders. (Gateway Green could be) a transformational piece, the mother of all opportunities. He added that the theme for east Portland is changing from Why are we shut out? to Hold our feet to the fire to fulfill commitments.
The obstacle to the project remains ODOT's willingness to sign off on it. Robinson says that meeting the agency's criteria has been slow going, but that it has shown willingness and desire to work with her group.
This is not the end, not even the beginning of the end, but maybe the beginning of the beginning, Gilbert told council.
Other projects funded as part of the EPNO allocation include a $115,000 supplement to the Portland Development Commission's Storefront Improvement Program, and a $50,000 addition to the Office of Neighborhood Involvement's Small Grants Program (both neighborhood earmarks).
Bike plans updated
The city is in the process of reviewing and expanding its Bicycle Master Plan to make cycling in Portland easier and safer, especially for less experienced riders.
According to city transportation planner Ellen Vanderslice, the existing Master Plan, adopted in 1996, contained 630 miles of bikeways, 300 of which have actually been created. The new draft plan update includes 930 miles of route.
In recent surveys, a large proportion of the city's population has identified itself as interested but concerned when it comes to cycling, Vanderslice told the Portland Planning Commission last month. Survey respondents said they were tempted to try it, but are nervous about riding in traffic. Many of the proposed new bikeways have these people in mind. These bikeways include bike boulevards (local streets with low traffic volumes where bikes and cars can comfortably coexist), bike tracks separated from cars by a physical barrier, and trails such as the Springwater Corridor where cars are forbidden.
The plan also calls for better enforcement of traffic regulations, education for bicyclists and the public at large, installation of more and better bike parking facilities, and promotion of bicycling through programs such as Safe Routes to School and events like Sunday Parkways. A new policy is to make bicycling more attractive than driving for trips of three miles or less, Vanderslice said, which fits well with the 20-minute neighborhood concept.
When asked about the interaction of bicycles and streetcars, Vanderslice said, We looked at how they intersect. We believe we now have better tools that can make them work well together. They don't necessarily have to be on the exact same streets.
Planner Roger Geller commented that east Portland currently has the most miles of bike lanes of any part of town, but they're of poor quality, and there are few identifiable destinations. However, there are three representatives from this area on the plan's citizen advisory committee, he said.
Geller told the commission, Bicycle cities are noticeably quieter, the air is cleaner, they're safer and money normally spent on gasoline is instead spent on local products. You have freedom of movement and freedom from congestion, which makes the roads less crowded for people who really have to drive. You can achieve all this for pennies on the dollar compared to any other transportation method. This vision is well within our ability to deliver, even if it isn't yet within our means.
The Planning Commission was originally scheduled to hold a public hearing on the plan in late August. However, Vanderslice later informed the Memo that publication of the final draft document has been pushed back to Sept. 25, and the hearing date is now Oct. 27. To view the plan, visit www.portlandonline.com/Transportation/index.cfm?a=71843&c=34812, or do an Internet search for Portland Bicycle Master Plan.
City considers allowing jet fighter maneuvers over PDX
Instead of a normal head-on landing approach, the Guard wants to practice a maneuver in which jets on limited power gradually descend as they circle the airport. Guard officials want to practice these maneuvers near the field, rather than over less inhabited areas, because of the increasing cost of jet fuel.
These maneuvers are practiced at airports all over the world, Major Ricky Morris told a gathering at Helensview High School last month. Our inability to do them here is a serious obstacle to our training.
The guard and CNAC invited the public to Helensview on Aug. 1 to witness and hear a demonstration of the maneuvers. A total of seven jets in three flights performed the maneuvers, with some of them flying directly over the parking lot. The noise generated was not ear-splitting, but noticeably louder than that of the commercial jets landing nearby.
Morris said the jets would not be flying over the Cully neighborhood and denounced an e-mail distributed by Cully residents that said the planes would do so. To this, Cully Association of Neighbors Chair Kathy Fuerstenau, who attended the demonstration, said, Well, I live in Cully, and the planes have flown over my house. Morris conceded this might have happened in the past. Fuerstenau later said that her husband, who had stayed home, reported that the jets passed over the house during the demonstration.
Asked how frequently the maneuvers would be carried out, Morris said, Well, during some months (especially the winter), there won't be any. During clear weather, there might be between 20 and 40 maneuvers a month. Fuerstenau claims Morris later said there might be as many as 75 in a month.
Guard representatives have said the noise level beneath jets performing these maneuvers would be between 65 and 70 decibels, and described 65 decibels as the noise level of two people having a conversation about three feet apart. Fuerstenau said she would find the imposition of this level of noise within her home objectionable.
CNAC will hold a meeting to make recommendations on the request Thursday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. at the St. Helens Conference Room at the airport. Members of the public wishing to provide input can contact Chair Maryhelen Kincaid at email@example.com.
For now, EPNO office structure stays same
At the Sept. 2 meeting, the East Portland Neighborhood chairs will debate - though probably not decide - whether to make the city-run East Portland Neighborhood Office a private nonprofit.
As noted in our July issue (Neighborhood doyenne leads overthrow), nonprofit corporations that contract with the city to provide neighborhood support services run five of the city's seven district neighborhood offices. Among other tasks, the nonprofit boards - composed of representatives of the neighborhoods served by the office and sometimes other interests - hire, fire and set salaries for the office staff. In the two city-run offices - EPNO and North Portland - staff answers directly to City Hall's Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement bureau, and neighborhood volunteers play only an advisory role in the running of the office. Staff in city offices are city employees, with somewhat higher salaries and much higher benefits than the offices administered by nonprofits. Proponents of city offices argue that although neighborhood leaders lack power under this arrangement, they are also free of the contention that has, at times, plagued nonprofit coalitions.
Under ONI regulations, any coalition that wants to change from one governance model to another must obtain the backing of at least 75 percent of the participating organizations to do so, and each such neighborhood group must formally decide its position in the manner dictated by its bylaws.
Russell Neighborhood Association Chair Bonny McKnight, who favors the change to a nonprofit model, said, There is opposition to this, so we can't do it by consensus at this point, but there's enough support for it that we can continue to pursue it.
82nd fence due this month
According to Oregon Department of Transportation Interim Community Affairs Manager Shelli Romero, the long-debated 82nd Avenue fence should be under construction this month. The 300-foot-long barrier in the middle of the avenue between Northeast Wasco and Jonesmore streets is intended to keep pedestrians from crossing the avenue in the middle of traffic, as they now do to transfer from buses to the MAX Light Rail station or vice versa, and instead use the signalized intersection. The Madison South Neighborhood Association has supported the proposed barrier, while the Montavilla Neighborhood Association has opposed it.
Gateway Park work moving forward
Portland Development Commission staffer Justin Douglas informed the Memo last month that the city has received funding to clean up environmental problems on a four-acre future park site on Northeast Halsey Street at 106th Avenue. The city should begin cleanup work there in the fall. The demolition of the former J. J. North's Restaurant building on Northeast Halsey Street at 105th Avenue, which makes up part of the site, could happen immediately.
Planner Manning transferred
City planner Barry Manning, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability's District Liaison to east Portland, has been transferred to North Portland. His replacement will be Chris Sczarzello, who has worked extensively on environmental issues and reform of the city's regulations relating to trees. Manning's projects include the 122nd Avenue Project, a revamping of the city's design regulations for that street, and the East Portland Action Plan mentioned in this month's Potpourri (Gateway Green receives planning funds).
At a City Council session last month, Mayor Sam Adams said, Barry, you've done a great job here.
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