Earlier this month, I attended the most recent meeting held by the Portland Development Commission on the MLK Boulevard Gateway/Heritage Markers project. The meeting focused on the Heritage Markers, which are meant to give some feel to the history of the area by use of quotes and story.
The previous version of the plan called for metal plaques with inscribed information to be placed in the sidewalk along the boulevard; the current plan involves a column at each of six corners on the boulevard, with a display board on each column face giving information on some aspect of local history.
This plan was received with what seemed to have been unanimous approval from the folks involved with the Gateway/Heritage Markers committee, and probably some relief. The vertical history displays will be striking, able to contain more information, and much more attractive than stone plaques that people will most likely walk over without a glance.
The Gateway plaza site will be addressed in future meetings of the Gateway/Heritage Markers study group.
Last week, as a precinct committeperson for the Multnomah County Democratic Party, I attended a nominating convention to choose potential replacements for state senator Margaret Carter, who recently resigned her seat to take a position with the state, and whose local office was on MLK Boulevard.
Of the candidates running, the one I felt most strongly suited the needs of the area was Jo Ann Bowman, executive director of Oregon Action. This great organization, headquarted at 6601 NE MLK Boulevard, has worked to convince Portland’s city council to make policy that addresses racial profiling in policing. Bowman’s stated focus on economic justice appeals strongly to me.
The Executive Committee of the Party will meet tomorrow and decide on a replacement from among the three candidates (including Bowman) closen by local precinct committeepersons.
In other new related to public process, the Portland Planning Commission approved a draft Streetcar Systems Plan and forwarded it onto the city council. The draft designates particular routes for study as potential ‘hosts’ for streetcare lines, and MLK Boulevard between Broadway and Lombard (roughly the geographic scope of this blog) is one of the streets targeted for more intensive study.
Irek Wieglosz, who worked on a group studying routes in Northeast Portland for the draft plan, was quoted in the Hollywood Star News as saying that a route on MLK has “the least expense and the great potental” among possibilities in Northeast.
Meanwhile, the Development Commssion is holding a series of meetings in North and Northeast Portland to address changes to the boundaries of the Oregon Convention Center and Interstate Avenue urban renewal areas. The OCC urban renewal area stretches down MLK Boulevard, allowing tax-increment financing to be used to spur development along the street.
I can’t begin to touch on the many aspects of the PDC’s efforts to spur development in N/NE Portland; if you’re interested in this subject, the PDC’s many public meetings are great sources of information about ongoing plans and future proposals. You can visit the Development Commission’s website for information on the broader North/Northeast Economic Development Initiative; the Citizens Advisory Committee empanelled to discuss and present the initative as well as changes to the urban renewal areas; and info on the Oregon Convention Center and Interstate urban renewal areas.
Today’s Portland Observer has an article by Jake Thomas on the PDC’s North/Northeast Development Initiative, discussing the inclusion of “social equity” as one of PDC’s development goals, as well as local concerns over gentrification. I can’t find an online copy of the article, so grab an Observer from a newsbox and check it out.