What concerns folks most about Portland International Airport’s growth? Find out, in this informative story …
Outer East Portland Neighborhood Representative Alesia Reese points out how vehicle traffic will be distributed in the future, with assistance from Jay Sugnet, Senior Planner with Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Activities at Portland International Airport affect outer East Portland neighborhoods – especially Parkrose, where the airport is located.
As air traffic continues to increase, a group called “PDX Airport Futures” is “Charting a course for PDX”, as their slogan says.
At an open house, at Portland Fire & Rescue Station 2, we met Jay Sugnet – a senior planner with the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability – to learn more about the PDX Airport Futures program.
He’s involved with the project, he said, because the city has land use authority over the airport.
“It’s important to do long-term planning,” Sugnet began, “so we don’t make costly decisions today that might have to be remedied in the near future.”
An example of this, he said, is deciding how much capacity for which to plan. “It doesn’t make sense to waste money building excess capacity – but we need to have enough capacity to meet growing demands.”
Neighbors have their say
Alesia Reese, a representative of the East Portland Neighborhood Organization, with the PDX Futures Group, said she got involved because of how the airport affects life in outer East Portland.
“It’s located within the boundaries of the Parkrose School District,” Reese observed. “The buildings, activities, and jobs at the airport impact East Portland residents and businesses daily. Every time an airplane flies over the Columbia River to take off or land, it flies over outer East Portland neighborhoods.”
Reese said she recognizes the importance of having a well-running airport in the region. “In addition to the passengers who come and go, there are a lot of cargo flights in and out of the airport. All of this air-related traffic provides important economic stimulus and development, as well as great-paying jobs. Portland International Airport is not just an East Multnomah County airport. It is a crucial link between the State of Oregon and the world.”
Reese said she wants to make sure that the airport, as it is developed, maintains its leadership role.
“At the same time, we want to make sure that citizen involvement, sustainability, and citizen involvement, and transportation in and around the airport continue to get better and develop along with the rest of the region.”
Klaus Ochs tells Alesia Reese he’s interested in long-term planning of the airport, in terms of those who bicycle, as their primary means of transportation.
Lists issues of concern
Major concerns of neighborhood associations and citizens near the airport, Reese told us, are manifold.
“We’re concerned about the affects of potential airport growth, transportation, and traffic impacts – as well as noise and wildlife management,” she enumerated. “We’ve recently seen issues related to wildlife control, and how it affects the airlines. Sustainability issues are dear to our hearts, here in Portland.”
Lauds public process
Working with PDX Airport Futures has been fulfilling, Reese said. “This process has been the most unique public engagement process in which I’ve ever participated. This is a true collaboration between the Port of Portland and the City of Portland. The collaboration between these two mighty forces, coming together for a common vision – an understanding of the future – is just phenomenal.
“The ability of the Port, and the City, to collaborate and cooperate, and bring in an incredible diversity of members so that every voice can be heard – where have you ever had seen that happen before?”
We asked Reese if their group merely rubber-stamped decisions made elsewhere.
“No, we’re actually making decisions. These are decisions on substantial topics – including sustainability, traffic, and transportation. We’re a group of people, and we work hard, very hard, and the Port and the City respect our work. That’s reflected in the product. It’s a product that I am proud to put my name on.”
Susan Aha, De-Icing Program Manager at the airport, points out where treated de-icing runoff – after it’s treated, in their new planned facility – will outfall into the Columbia River.
To learn more about this organization, and to participate, see their website: www.pdxairportfutures.com.
© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News