|County to retain Hansen building, traffic tangles tackled
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
Editors note: The following is a roundup of a variety of stories from veteran city beat reporter Lee Perlman.
In the compendium of news items, Perlman touches upon Multnomah Countys decision regarding surplus property; the move to untangle the traffic problems at Northeast Columbia Boulevard and 89th Avenue; plans to bring a skate park to Parkrose; the Portland Development Commissions position on the former Gateway bowling alley/bingo hall; and the proposal to eliminate community gardens from the citys budget.
County to retain sheriffs office
It seems the Hansen Property, also known as the Multnomah County Sheriffs Office, is not about to become a car dealership after all.
Multnomah County Facilities Manager Doug Butler is recommending that the land at 12240 N.E. Glisan St. remain in public hands, where it may get a second life as a services office.
Last year the county proposed to sell the Hansen Building, and a total of 110 acres it owns near the old Edgefield Manor, to finance a new justice center, combining a new sheriffs office, courthouse for the processing of lower impact crimes and holding cells somewhere in Gresham. The Ron Tonkin auto dealership conglomeration, which has several properties along Northeast and Southeast 122nd Avenues, was known to be interested in acquiring the property.
However, in a memo to the Multnomah County Commission last month, Butler said that an appraisal showed the Hansen property to be valued below what we had expected. It is at the low end for retail and the high end for an office or medical use, making it worth considering the property for a future county development. Butler suggested it might be the site for some future consolidation of county offices.
Meanwhile, an appraisal of the Edgefield properties came in higher than expected, making it possible that the Hansen sale proceeds wont be needed for the justice center.
The memo noted in passing that the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association had requested a delay in the sale until after the 122nd Avenue Study is completed, and the recommendation would substantially meet this request.
Multnomah County commissioners Lisa Naito and Lonnie Roberts were skeptical of the idea of consolidating services on the Hansen property, but agreed with the strategy of keeping it for now.
If we decide to sell it later, we should have no problem finding a buyer, Roberts said.
The commission was expected to vote March 31 on the matter.
East Columbia-Lombard connector moving ahead
Also moving forward is the East Columbia Boulevard to Lombard Street connector.
This $32 million project will create new connections between Northeast Columbia Boulevard and Lombard Street west of Interstate 205, currently a source of accidents and congestion. A new road for eastbound traffic would connect with Lombard Street at 87th Avenue, with a westbound lane at 89th Avenue (both signalized), and both would connect with Columbia Boulevard at 86th Avenue. Six local businesses north of Lombard have been or will be relocated to make way for the new roads, and others south of it, including Landscape East and Pac Lease, have had their driveways relocated to Northeast Emerson Street to the south to avoid conflict with the through traffic. There will be improvements to one block each of Emerson Street, 87th and 89th Avenues.
One resident at a project open house last month complained, People on 89th have been complaining for years about traffic and speeding.
Project manager Rob Barnard said that the city originally planned to close the street at Lombard, but that local residents and business owners insisted it was essential to traffic circulation.
About 30 people attended the open house, Barnard says. Not too many had special questions or concerns, he says. It was more a matter of familiarizing them with the project.
Construction should begin by Oct. 31, he says. There should be two lanes of traffic open in both directions most of the time, he says. You have to think of the Lombard work as widening, he says.
Former Gateway bowling alley/ bingo parlor sale pending
To the frustration of the Portland Development Commission and some neighborhood advocates, it doesnt seem as if the former bowling alley and bingo parlor will ever be a community park.
PDCs Sara King reported, and the Ukrainian Bible Churchs Igor Levkiv confirmed, the church is selling the long-vacant property at Northeast 104th Avenue at Wasco Street to an unnamed buyer. PDC had long identified the property as a potential park site, and the church had expressed a willingness to work with the agency. However, they also feel a need to sell the property to finance a new church in Milwaukie. Consultant Peter Fry said that PDC had been unable to come up with the sale price or even make a firm commitment to do so. If we had turned down other buyers, and PDC hadnt followed through, wed really be up a creek, he told the Memo.
Parkrose High property a likely skate park
Portland Parks & Recreation continued last month to evaluate potential sites for skateboard parks, and land adjacent to Parkrose High School, owned by the district, continues to emerge as a likely candidate.
A Portland Parks & Recreation advisory committee held two public meetings last month to evaluate both the school district site and one owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation at the junction of the Banfield Freeway and Northeast 122nd Avenue. There were 40 people at a session at the high school, 35 at the Portland Police Bureaus East Precinct a week later, and with one exception all favored the high school site. The holdout was Parkrose School District board of directors member Peg Billings, who opposed the use of school property for this purpose. The property had been purchased from the Rossi family for the specific purpose of creating a soccer field, she said. Linda Robinson, a Hazelwood Neighborhood Association representative to the advisory committee, later pointed out to the Memo that the parcel is large enough to accommodate both facilities. The reaction was less clear on four potential sites for a small skate spot at Bonny Dale, Ed Benedict, Lents or Ventura parks. There was reaction for and against all of them, Robinson said.
Portland Parks & Recreation will continue to take input on the issue through April 14, and can be reached at 503-823-5570. The bureaus recommendations will be presented and discussed from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, April 26 and May 10 at the Portland Building, 1120 S.W. Fifth Ave.
Community Gardens ax nixed
The elimination of Portland Parks & Recreations Community Garden program was proposed as part of the bureaus draft budget last month, and promptly rejected by a pair of City Council members.
The bureau had been ordered to pare $1.5 million from its budget as its share of a citywide $8 million budget shortfall. Community advocates such as Argays Jane Roffey-Berry had protested the decision. Ty Kovatch, an aide to Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard, told the Memo that both Leonard and City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, assigned to review the Parks budget by Mayor Tom Potter, considered the Community Garden and community center cuts totally unacceptable. He added that the rest of Council shared this sentiment.
122nd Avenue public meeting set
The latest public meeting on the Bureau of Plannings 122nd Avenue study will be April 2 at 10 a.m. at Midland Branch Library, 805 S.E. 122nd Ave. The study is an attempt to reconcile the presence of auto dealerships on the avenue with regulations that demand pedestrian and transit friendly development. A particular issue is a regulation that prohibits the exterior display and storage of merchandise such as autos.
At a recent meeting of the studys advisory committee, project manager Barry Manning told the Memo, some members favored holding fast to the regulation while others suggested modifying it in an effort to seek a compromise. They also looked at installing improvements such as curb extensions or center islands to make the street more pedestrian friendly, he said.
Park planning continues
Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard ruffled a few feathers with some East Portland activists with a key decision regarding the budget for Portland Parks & Recreation.
As the Hazelwood Neighborhood Associations Linda Robinson told her board, Randy made a decision that what they should do is protect the existing (park) facilities. No new parks, no new facilities. Then he decided that with nothing new coming they didnt need planning, so they didnt need planners. He eliminated them all.
The larger Portland City Council eventually over-rode Leonard and restored the jobs of five of the six park planners he had called for cutting. Robinson noted that East Portland has less than its share of park facilities as compared to the rest of the city, as it is with many other urban services. With no new facilities, theres not much for us, she said. The planners are critical. Leonard protested that he had been misunderstood, that he wanted to consolidate the citys planning functions rather than eliminate them. Robinson, who was present, later ridiculed the notion that park and land use planning are interchangeable.
Plant sale at library planned
The Hazelwood Neighborhood Association will hold a benefit plant sale from 1 to 3 p.m. May 1 at the Midland Library, 805 S.E. 122nd Ave.
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