Commissioner Fritz welcomed back to Gateway; GABA promotes Aug. 15 Fun-O-Rama & Cruise-in

Here’s your opportunity to catch up on the activities of the Gateway Area Business Association …

Lee Powell of Clifton Powell Farmer’s Insurance Agency, and Vice President of GABA, welcomes Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz to their monthly meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When members of the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) got together for their July meeting, they heard from Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, learned about a potential development project along NE Halsey Avenue, and learned more about the Gateway National Night Out Cruise-in and Fun-O-Rama to be held on August 15.

Commissioner Fritz welcomed back
When she was running for office – on both occasions – now Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz promised to return to the GABA group and discuss issues of the day with them.

At the lightly-attended July 9 meeting, Commissioner Fritz asked attendees to move up front to allow a more intimate conversation, instead of a presentation.

She began by recounting her life’s journey from England to Pittsburgh, and then to Portland in 1986. “I thought this was the best place to live and raise a family.”

Commissioner Fritz says, after more than two decades, she still believes Portland is a great place to live.

Fritz said she worked for 22 years in inpatient psychiatry at Oregon Health & Sciences University before winning election to the Portland city Council in November of 2008. “I am the first candidate to be elected from the community using Portland’s public campaign financing system.”

The commissioner noted that all three of her children went through the Portland Public School system.

“It’s nice to be back here,” Fritz said. “I think I first came here in 2005 during my first campaign. I feel like I’m back among friends. When I asked to learn what’s important to people in the Gateway area, I learned that this area is not ‘out here’ – it is ‘here’ – in East Portland.

“Here in Gateway, we’re about 6 miles from the center of Portland here.” Fritz continued. “My home is about 7 miles from downtown Portland on the Westside. I’ve kind of an equidistant feeling for being on the outskirts as do you. I got involved in my neighborhood association, then got involved in citywide programs – such as starting the Citywide Parks Team along with Linda Robinson.”

Prepared by experience
The commissioner asked to hear from members; GABA vice president, Lee Powell, asked Fritz, “Has your experience as a mother, nurse, and mental health worker been helpful in your new role in City government?”

“My being a nurse came to the fore quicker I would have imagined,” Fritz responded. “This job is a lot more challenging that I thought it would be. I’ve found there is a of ‘agenda inequity’ that comes up when we’re deciding issues. It’s more than about race. Gender inequity is a much more challenging issue. We’re looking into the ratio of [City of Portland] supervisors, male to female.”

Agrees with Chavez Blvd. name change
The day before she spoke, Fritz and the other members of the Portland City Council voted to change S.E. 39th Avenue to Cesar Chavez Blvd.

“I think renaming the street was a great decision,” Fritz commented. “We wanted to honor the new diversity in our city.”

Fritz noted that some people were very unhappy about the decision. “People own their property, not the street. I’m required to look at the best interests of the city as a whole.”

Points out other City Council  decisions
“But while that was the ‘headline” of the week,” added Fritz, “we also passed the City’s Economic Development Strategy and an innovative homeowner insulation program pilot program. We also passed a measure to build streetcars in Clackamas, instead of overseas.”

Turning to the hubbub about where the Portland Beavers baseball stadium would be located, Fritz told the group, “I as delighted the way that Lents neighbors spoke up against the baseball stadium being built in their park. It’s an example of how [Portland City] are listening to people.”

Fritz gives commendations to her fellow City Commissioners.

Kudos for fellow commissioners
Good city government, Fritz opined comes when we “elect intelligent people from diverse backgrounds, and, listen to citizen input.”

About the other commissioners, she said, “I respect the four men I work with. I’m not sorry I ran against (Commissioner) Saltzman. I’ve found that he’s really good; a straight shooter. We are a changing society and city. The Council that exists today is very different from what it was under Mayor Vera Katz.”

Jobs a pressing issue
Asked what she thought was one of the most critical issues in the city, Fritz said it was unemployment.

“Jobs is a good four-letter word. The ‘Keep Portland Weird’ slogan is okay, but we really need to keep Portlanders employed. We can be as weird as we want to be, but we need to provide good jobs for people who live here.”

The commissioner mentioned that she was a little taken aback by the number of people who were seeking an audience with her. “My office gives priority to those who helped with my campaign, and to those like you, in GABA, who were open and listened to me.”

In closing, Fritz remind the group, “What you are doing is working; keep doing it. The City Council does recognize that outer East Portland exists.”

New park considered in Gateway
In other news, Justin Douglas and Randy Evens from the Portland Development Commission talked briefly regarding the Gateway Neighborhood Park & Redevelopment Project that would provide a three-acre park and one acre for commercial development.

The project would include property on which the former bowling alley and bingo hall sat, as well as the closed JJ North’s Restaurant at NE 106th Avenue and NE Halsey Street.

The PDC pair said they expected the restaurant to be demolished later this year, and environmental remediation would follow. “We’re looking at preparing a Master Plan during 2010,” Douglas said. “In the interim, it will be a grassy area with open spaces.”

Development would not begin before 2012, Douglas added.

Lee Powell and Lou Fontana of Parkview Christian Retirement Community, show off the 2009 National Night Out tee-shirt.

New Fun-O-Rama held at Aug. 15 Cruise-in

The Gateway Area Business Association and Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes, now known as Parkview Christian Retirement Community, are teaming up to present their 6th Annual National Night Out against Crime Cruise-in and Fun-O-Rama.

This all-day event runs from 10 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., and features classic and special interest vehicles, two live bands, fun activities for guests, non-profit organization and business representatives, and a low-cost hamburger lunch with all the trimmings.

To enter the cruise-in, or for more information, contact Lou Fontana at (503) 309-1444. Parkview Christian Retirement Community is located on NE 108th Avenue, a long block north of NE Halsey Street.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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