SE 122nd Avenue Pilot Project continues to explore accommodating growth in outer East Portland

Find out what’s been learned so far, in trying to create a more ‘viable, sustainable, and healthy SE 122nd Avenue corridor’ – and how you can have your say, at the next meeting on February 23 …

City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Barry Manning describes the scope of the project, at their last meeting in December.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Considering that it was just a couple of weeks before Christmas, and the thermometer had dipped into the teens, it was notable that about 40 people still came to the SE 122nd Avenue Pilot Project workshop, held on December 8 at Gilbert Heights Elementary School.

27 participants completed the survey about area concerns handed to them as they arrived. The survey included nine questions specific to the SE 122nd Avenue study.

> Note: to see a PDF file of the draft full report about this meeting, visit the City’s website: CLICK HERE.

“The SE 122nd Pilot Project is exploring ways to create a more viable, sustainable, and healthy SE 122nd Avenue corridor of the future,” is how Barry Manning, AICP, Senior Planner at City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, explained the exercise. “The study focuses on the areas along and near SE 122nd Avenue, between SE Division Street and SE Foster Road.”

At the meeting, Manning presented information regarding existing conditions that he and his team had learned from neighborhood walks and group discussions, which had focused on existing and desired local shops and services, as well as how access and safety for pedestrians, bikes, and vehicles might be improved.

Workshop attendees listen as Barry Manning presents key demographic and lifestyle information gathered so far during this project.

Project consists of four topic areas:

  1. Accessibility, Connections, Pedestrian Comfort and Safety: Key sidewalks, crossings, connections, transit service, and stops
  2. Convenience and Availability of Services: Location and variety of retail and services, access to food and schools (20-minute neighborhood), jobs and employment opportunities
  3. Infill Development and Design of new development: height, bulk, scale, intensity; site design features; location of new development: scale and intensity
  4. Community Amenities and Livability: Parks, open areas, trails, trees, gathering places, special features

Then, a 4-H group based at ROSE Community Development’s Leander Court gave a narrated photo presentation, “Things important to us here”.

Table discussions provide retail shopping insight
The participants, joined by a facilitator, sat around tables and discussed the four topic areas.

“Information we found interesting about the ‘Accessibility, Connections, Pedestrian Comfort and Safety’ component,” Manning later told us, “was regarding how and where participants go to shop. It appears as if many of them frequent locations other than the immediate area, for their retail shopping.”

In particular, residents reported they’d traveled out of the area to purchase groceries at stores perceived to offer lower prices – and also traveled to higher-end specialty grocery stores, Manning noted. “We found many went to Clackamas Town Center, Gresham, or small-scale main-street areas for specialty retail and coffee shops.”

While these residents had traveled to “discretionary retail” locations, the participants nonetheless expressed strong support for the concept of “shopping local”, and wished for more such options the neighborhood.

This table is discussion is led by Bureau of Planning and Sustainability planner Julia Gisler.

Says poor connections hinder local travel
Regarding the “Convenience and Availability of Services” category, Manning said it was noteworthy that many didn’t do a lot of biking or walking in the area, saying “poor connections” hindered doing so.

“For example, some residents who live near the Springwater Corridor and used it recreationally, nonetheless drove to the trail because they felt local connections were unsafe,” Manning said. “There were also concerns about walking in areas without sidewalks. Some said they did some recreational walking; but not along 122nd Avenue.”

Many participants expressed the desire to use mass transit more often. But, actual TriMet riders confirmed observations made by the study team: Although Line 71 is one of the most often used, it provides infrequent service, resulting in long waits.

To study infill development on February 23
“At our next workshop session,” Manning stated, “we’ll be focusing on infill development issues; hopefully, touching on amenities and livability issues.”

Again, staff members will record information they’ve learned in this session. “Then, together with the Community Working Group, we’ll explore ways to address some of the issues during this spring. We expect to have draft recommendations out by late spring; and we expect our report to be out in July.”

On February 23, join your neighbors from 6:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and provide your input. The workshop will be held at Ron Russell Middle School, 3955 SE 112th Avenue. For more information, contact the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at (503) 823-7700, or visit their website: CLICK HERE.

The project team brings many highly visual displays to these workshops, to help attendees quickly grasp the concepts presented.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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