|Parkrose, NPIs struggle to meet funding
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
PDC's NPI Manager Dana DeKlyen told the Memo the other NPI districts will be given more time to raise the funds and, except for Rosewood, allowed to miss their projected startup date of July 1, with some beginning as late as October.
In addition, although PDC had determined two months before that each district would need a full-time on-site manager, in some cases they would settle for a part-time staffer, lowering the funding goal for local stakeholders to $15,000 per year. In either case, PDC will match the amount raised on a dollar for dollar basis.
Also on the ides, the Parkrose District rolled out their own latest effort, attempting to literally wine and dine potential donors.
The NPIs are a sort of mini-urban renewal district. They encompass designated commercial corridors, and land within a block or two on either side of them that are lagging behind their potential for private investment; they serve a population that is below Portland median income; are ethnically diverse, and have some degree of organization in the form of functioning neighborhood and/or business organization.
Once established, the districts receive funds for business upgrades, area marketing, and modest physical improvements paid for by a variety of sources including tax increment financing.
TIF, the main funding source of urban renewal districts, diverts the increase in the district's assessed property taxes into a special tax increment fund for programs and improvements in the district they are generated in. NPI districts will continue for ten years, or until they have dispersed the $1.2 million on local efforts, whichever comes first.
Four of the districts are in east Portland - Rosewood, Parkrose, the Division-82nd jade district and Midway-122nd and Division Street area - while the other two are in Cully neighborhood.
Each district must meet requirements to receive the funds. One is to form a stakeholders committee of local volunteers that will pledge time to the program. Other requirements include local fundraising. Each set of stakeholders had to raise $3,000 in startup funds by last December; all managed to do so. Then, they had to raise $15,000 by June 15 for a local manager; PDC later raised it to $30,000.
The stakeholders have been working ever since, both locally and collectively, to meet the fundraising goal. Although they have chosen to keep these discussions confidential, it is known they are looking at a larger potential funder with deeper pockets to meet their collective needs as well as local resources.
The Parkrose steering committee continued their pursuit of more funding that very night, throwing a dinner for potential supporters at the Russellville Grange. The event was put together by Joe Rossi, Amelia Salvador and Loretta Stites, paid for by the remnants of the district startup fund, and featured donations of fresh asparagus, spinach and strawberries and the services of Kismet Catering. A sales pitch, complete with a glossy binder and power point presentation, followed dessert.
Rossi said that Sandy is an historic business district that's really fallen from its heyday. It was the freeway to New York. People placed their shops here because that's where the action was. Then came the I-84 Freeway and the Gateway District, taking away Sandy's status as primary travel route and business center. Now the street has vacant storefronts and businesses that are not very successful, Rossi said. However, he added, Look at our potential. Parkrose has its own school district. With its proximity to MAX light rail and Portland International Airport, We're a gateway to people who arrive by international travel. It offers commercial space close to the airport without the land and rental prices of Cascade Station.
For residents, Rossi said, How nice it would be to be able to walk to businesses. At one time, if you had a house a block from Alberta, you couldn't give it away. He went on to say that such hot business districts as Alberta, Hawthorne and Division had hired professional managers. When you own a business, you don't have time to think about community needs. Having a full-time manager would be huge.
Salvador, who lives in Gresham, but works closely with Rossi on his Parkrose projects, mentioned local businesses such as Oak Furniture Warehouse and the German Bakery, and said Sandy has the potential to be a retail destination. It's fun to go to Hawthorne or Hollywood, but why can't we do that here? she asked. We have the infrastructure to do that. We want our members to be proud of where we live. We need to communicate with brokers about our vacant spaces. We need to increase our visibility, growth and sustainability, and create a sense of community.
Karen Fischer Gray, a stakeholder whose other hats include Parkrose School District Superintendent and East Portland Action Plan steering committee member, said Parkrose High School's new soccer complex will have a grand opening in August, and there will be a centennial celebration of the school district in October. One of EPAP's greatest accomplishments, she said, was gaining a full-time city employee, a professional advocate.
Parkrose Farmers' Market manager Steve Voorhees, whose market draws crowds to Parkrose High School parking lot every Saturday, said that at Rossi's suggestions he is looking for space for a Sunday market somewhere on Sandy. It's a way to bring people to Sandy, he said. People won't rob you if they see you all the time. Let's roll out the red carpet.
City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, a member of the Parkrose Business Association, said the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative is one of the best things City Council has done in my three and a half years there. I'm glad to be in Parkrose where people come as immigrants, raise families, and have an indomitable spirit that we won't give up and won't take no for an answer. With NPI, she said, You're pioneers all over again. If you succeed, we can repeat this elsewhere.
Fritz gave a fundraising pitch in which she pointed out that 30 people could raise the needed money contributing $1,000 each, or 60 giving $500, amounting to less than $50 per month.
Jerry Danna, owner of the Parkrose Elmer's Restaurant, said, It's exciting to see all of you here. There's a strong heartbeat. Let's get together and get to work.
This is where the rubber meets the road, Rossi said.
Stites later told the Memo that the evening, put together on short notice, went pretty well for a last minute event. With about half the available table places filled, most of those who came were already on board for the venture.
One of those who were not, tire store owner Bob Brown, was not fully convinced at evening's end. He asked pointed questions about how much money the community is asked to raise and what they could hope to get from it.
Some answers were forthcoming, but, with the NPI being a new program, answers to some questions are unknown at this stage of the process.
At the group's regular meeting a few days after the dinner, they worked on bylaws, elected members to the steering committee and discussed volunteering for Rossi's Barn Bash to garner a donation from his non-profit when the topic of sending thank-you notes to attendees was brought up, DeKlyen said, You have your thank you notes going out and since you didn't do a direct ask at the event you need to do that. Or a phone call, or something.
Rossi responded they are going to talk about pledges at the next meeting. We need to sit-down and follow-up in person. I'm good at doing that, but I need help organizing. We need to talk about that next meeting who we hit first.
The Parkrose NPI meets the second and fourth Tuesdays every month. The next meeting is Tuesday, July 10 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Russellville Grange, 12105 N.E. Prescott St.
Tim Curran contributed to this report.
MEMO Advertising | MEMO Archives | MEMO Web Neighbors | MEMO Staff | Home