|EPAP committed to quick results
The MID-COUNTY MEMO
Publishers note: Welcome to Perlmans Potpourri for March a roundup of news items from the Gateway and Parkrose neighborhoods of mid-Multnomah County from veteran Beat Reporter Lee Perlman.
Coming up, the East Portland Action Plan Committee, or EPAP, picks short-term, highly visible projects to begin immediately demonstrating measurable results to themselves and the public.
Looks like Gateway developer Ted Gilbert has offered to fund a feasibility study for a possible new park near Rocky Butte, while continuing to hold out hope that the vacant land he owns across from the Gateway Fred Meyer will be developed sooner rather than later.
Also, a report on the results of the City Planning Bureaus contest to come up with the most aesthetically pleasing higher-density courtyard building designs that best fit in with the neighborhood character.
Victory is declared by the coalition formed to defeat the construction of a Wal-Mart across from Madison High School on Northeast 82nd Avenue.
Plus, Mid-county streetcar route possibilities are winnowed down.
The neighborhood association key in helping defeat the mega-store in its backyard, Madison South, announces plans for a community fair and walk to Rocky Butte Park.
Would you like to rent a 400 square foot community garden plot at Hazelwood Hydro Park?
But first, to the EPAP Committee report ...
EPAP Committee chooses short-term goals
The East Portland Action Plan Committee, charged among other things with developing a long-term action agenda for Mid-county, last month selected three proposals for improving life in the short term.
By consensus, the 30-person committee selected the following objectives to pursue:
Increase comprehensive, sustainable graffiti prevention and clean-up programs
Create opportunities to increase interaction and understanding among the cultural communities and geographic neighborhoods within east Portland
Develop a public safety messaging program to increase community-policing efforts
The three were selected from among 20 potential short-term strategies previously brainstormed by the committee. The 20, in turn, were taken from more than 100 possible action items suggested by committee members in previous sessions. Among the criteria for near-term strategies were that they could be accomplished within a few months, that they have broad visibility and high impact, that they be low-cost, that they be spread throughout the Mid-county plan area (i.e., everything east of the I-205 Freeway), and that they illustrate larger objectives.
Committee member and southeast resident Michelle Winningham advocated strongly for graffiti cleanup as a strategy, pointing out that it would have a highly visible impact. It would also be an activity in which youth could be involved, she said.
Several people said that housing and transportation are critical issues for the area. One member said, Where I live, housing and transportation are linked. There are places where theres no way for kids to get to school unless theyre bused or their parents drive them. There are no shoulders on the roads, and youre taking your life in your hands by walking. Housing development also impacts schools, he said. The schools are bursting with too large a population, and there arent enough resources to deal with them, he said.
However, when committee staffer Stefanie Slyman asked if housing issues could be dealt with effectively as a short-term project, she was met with a chorus of No! Committee member Mike VanderVeen of Hazelwood said, There are oodles of resources out there for housing. Why does this group need to contribute?
Committee member Frieda Christopher commented that there is a lack of coordination among housing-related activities, and that an analysis of the housing available and the resources that support such development would be beneficial.
Winningham replied, Another analysis is not something that most people can integrate with.
Northeast resident Katie Larsell and Cynthia Thomas of Metropolitan Family Services called for more equal funding and support for the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) school activities program.
Another member called for an equitable share of transportation services for east Portland.
A high school student who attended the meeting said, I practically live on TriMet, youth in general are huge users, but its really expensive to use it.
The committee will hold its next meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. March 13. It has also tentatively scheduled a public open house to receive input on these and other issues for April 2. Both sessions will be held at the East Portland Community Center, 740 S.E. 106th Ave.
Gilbert paying for open space study
Thanks to generous contributions by David Evans and Associates, Inc. and developer Ted Gilbert, Gateway Green can move forward.
Gateway Green is the name given to a 35-acre tract of open land south of Rocky Butte, between the I-84 and I-205 freeways, owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Community activists have long considered this to be a potential recreational resource for Gateway, a very park-deficient community. Several years ago, as a class project, graduate students from Portland State University did an inventory of the property and concluded that it could be a potential recreational resource. Now, after some discussions, PDOT has given approval for an engineering feasibility study of this concept, the next step toward actually creating it. David Evans has agreed to do the study for half the companys usual fee. Gilbert has offered to put up the money, for an amount he declined to reveal.
Gilbert led a select group on a field trip through the property through a snowstorm in early February. Hazelwood community activist Linda Robinson, one of those who attended, said, Theres a perception that theres nothing unique or exceptional about Gateway. We need something visible thats ours.
If our best dreams come true, we could have something that would be an asset to both Gateway and the wider region, Gilbert told the Memo. The parcel could contain both bike and pedestrian trails and environmental habitat, he said. A potential pedestrian bridge to Rocky Butte could expand the site to 100 acres.
Gilbert readily admits that the project comes under the heading of enlightened self-interest. For years he has been trying to develop a vacant parcel, the former site of the Gateway Apartments at Northeast 102nd Avenue and Glisan Street, as multi-story housing and/or commercial space. Asked about its status, he said, All I can tell you is that I still believe in it. Were trying to build a scale and quality of building that isnt there now. It will cost the same to build there as anywhere, but we cant generate the scale of rent that would make this feasible.
The biggest challenge holding Gateway back is public perception. We sit at the confluence of two freeways; we have the most successful mass transit station in the system, the opportunity for a transit-oriented lifestyle in which people dont need to drive everywhere, proximity to the airport. Its an area that deserves help from all of us, and a number of us believe in it. The area in question is a piece of property that could be an attractor, and help us put a (positive) brand on this area.
Courtyard housing designs awarded
The Portland Bureau of Planning last month announced the winners of its Courtyard Housing Design Competition. The contest, which attracted 250 entries from architects in 33 states and 15 countries, is part of the bureaus efforts to promote higher-density development that is aesthetically pleasing and fits in with existing neighborhoods. Under planner Bill Cunningham, the program has turned its attention to courtyard and cluster designs in which housing units share common open space.
The contest awarded three prizes and one honorable mention each in two categories: for older inner-city neighborhoods built before the automobile became commonplace and for newer communities, especially those in Mid-county, east of the I-205 freeway. In the latter category, the winners, in their order of placement, were:
Emory Baldwin, Shirley Tomita, Masumi Saito, Lara Normand, Jocelyn Freilinger, Shawna Sherman and Clara Berridge of Seattle
Mathew and Rhonda Goyke, Steven Gangwes, Morris Onishi and Ethan Levine of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Steven Dangermond and Christopher Keane of Portland
Honorable Mention Matthew Priest and Jerome Burgos of New York City
In addition to these decided by a professional jury there were two Peoples Choice awards for the most votes received at the projects Web site. These awards went to designs by Ganesh Ramachandran of Brighton, Mass., and by Emily S. and Krzysztof Kociolek of Portland.
In prepared remarks at the presentation of the awards, Mayor Tom Potter said, I urge community members, including neighbors, builders and designers, to take a close look at the designs and principles in this catalogue. The winning designs for both competitions are available at the Portland Bureau of Planning, 1900 S.W. Fourth Ave., or online at www.courtyardhousing.org.
Neighbors win big box developers flee
The Madison South and Roseway neighborhood associations have won their big box fight.
According to Dawn Rasmussen of Madison South, SmartCentres of Canada has allowed its option to develop a 26-acre former landfill on Northeast 82nd Avenue at Siskiyou Street to lapse without renewal.
The company last year attempted to build a retail complex, including a 190,000-square-foot building, on the site across from Madison High School. It denied rumors the anchor tenant would be Wal-Mart, but neighborhood activists claimed that Wal-Marts are the anchors in two-thirds of SmartCentres Canadian developments. In any case, they said, any sort of big box retail would be inappropriate for the site due to its impact on traffic and local businesses.
They amassed a war chest from the sale of hundreds of anti-big box lawn signs to neighbors, and used some of the money to hire a lawyer and traffic consultant.
SmartCentres filed a request for a conditional use for the project last year (the zoning normally allows only 60,000 square feet of retail on the site), but later withdrew it, apparently in the face of unfavorable analysis by city staff. The company eventually engaged in negotiations with neighborhood representatives. However, Madison Souths Frank Walsh said last month, Even though they verbally changed their tune late in the process, they never indicated they took the welfare of the community to heart.
Rasmussen added, The only wild card is the owner of the property. This is his opportunity to be a hero or villain.
The owner, Mike Hashem, later told the Memo that his intention now is to contract with a developer, yet to be selected, to put as much commercial development as the zoning will allow along 82nd Avenue and to use the rest of the site for light industrial use, such as self-storage; allowed by right, he said.
Future streetcar routes whittled down
Commissioner Sam Adams Streetcar System Plan project is considering, and winnowing, potential future streetcar routes. As planner Patrick Sweeney announced at a recent meeting, some routes have been discarded because they are on grades too steep for the cars to negotiate, because the adjacent land isnt zoned for the type of high-intensity development the streetcar is intended to stimulate, or because the routes are on high-traffic, high-speed streets where slow-moving, frequently stopping streetcars would create a traffic hazard.
Routes that were deemed unsuitable in mid-Multnomah County included the following:
East Burnside Street between Gilham and 102nd Avenues
Northeast 82nd Avenue between Airport Way and Killingsworth Street
Southeast Powell Boulevard between McLaughlin Boulevard and 162nd Avenue
Southeast 148th Avenue between Burnside Street and Powell Boulevard
Southeast Holgate Boulevard between Milwaukie and 136th Avenues
Northeast 164th Avenue between Sandy Boulevard and East Burnside Street
Northeast Airport Way between 82nd and 148th Avenues
Northeast 122nd Avenue between Prescott and Halsey Streets
Southeast 162nd Avenue between Burnside Street and Powell Boulevard
Northeast Prescott Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 122nd Avenue
Northeast 148th Avenue between Airport Way and East Burnside Street
Southeast 136th Avenue between Powell Boulevard and Foster Road
Neighborhood plans Rocky Butte walk
The Madison South Neighborhood Association will be holding Base to Butte, a 3.5-mile walk from Hancock Park to the summit of Rocky Butte, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 3. There will also be a small community fair at the park. The association will be asking for $10 in fees from participants. We want to celebrate and take advantage of the wonderful resource we have called Rocky Butte, co-organizer Dawn Rasmussen.
Hydropark to have community gardens
The Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation will have community garden plots in part of the Hazelwood Hydropark, Northeast 117th Avenue and Holladay Street, this summer. The 400-square-foot plots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for $50 a year. For more information call 503-823-1612.
MEMO Advertising | MEMO Archives | MEMO Web Neighbors | MEMO Staff | Home