Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbors savor Brown’s BBQ

What kind of neighborhood association meeting treats everyone to a delicious barbecue dinner? Take a look at this event‚ it has become a springtime tradition‚

Portland Water Bureau’s Jimmy Brown caters the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association meeting, highlighted by his BBQ chicken and ribs.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
A couple of years ago, the chair of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association, Glenn Taylor, talked Jimmy Brown into serving his famous barbecue as a drawing card to attract folks to their spring meeting.

At that time, Brown headed Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement. Brown’s homemade barbecue chicken and ribs were the talk‚ and taste‚ of the association’s meeting.

Susan McDonald and her daughter are one of the dozens who lined up for a plate full of Jimmy Brown’s scrumptious barbecue.

Even though Brown has since moved over to the Portland Water Bureau, he’s kept the new tradition alive by‚ once again‚ serving up a dinner, including heaping portions of toothsome barbecue and all the fixings at the association’s meeting in May, their last meeting until fall.

“I love seeing folks enjoy good food, and I like to support neighborhood activities,” was the reason Brown gave us for serving the banquet.

City execs provide update
As happy diners cleaned their plates, Taylor called the neighborhood meeting to order.

Tom Klutz, Portland Water Bureau, brought news regarding Portland’s newest “hydro-park”‚ a public park built and maintained by the water bureau‚ scheduled to be developed at SE 138 Ave. & SE Center St.

“The old rusting fences are down,” Klutz reported. “We’ve brought in more boulders from Bull Run to keep vehicles out and still let people in.”

The next step for the park will be improving the land with grass, installing picnic tables, benches and a walking path around the perimeter.

“And, the park will be easily accessible by the handicapped. I thank the Powellhurst-Neighbors who have made it [the park’s development] a good process.”

The manager of Powell Valley Road Water District before it was transferred to the City of Portland, Tom Pokorny, stopped by the meeting.

“At the SE 138th Ave. well field,” Pokorny reminisced, “we used to have the Drinking Water Festival in September. And, perhaps many of you remember out ‘tapping contests’‚ our team took international honors one year.  When Commissioner Leonard took over the water bureau, PWB provided two men’s and two women’s teams in the competition. By the way, the Rockwood team, a men’s and a women’s team, are going to the international championships in Toronto this year.”

In the foreground, Tom Klutz, Portland Water Bureau, listens to questions about the new “hydro-park” planned for the area‚ as his boss, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard (in the background), listens.

Leonard delivers “state of the water” message
“Until the city took over,” said Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard, “my water at home came from Powell Valley. I recognized how well this water bureau served its citizens, so I invited Tom [Pokorny] to our leadership and management meetings when I was assigned the Portland Water Bureau in 2005. Tom’s participation was a turning point that helped [water] bureau develop into an organization that puts customer service first.”

Turning his attention to Powell Butte, Leonard said, “We’re putting a new home up there that will look like a log cabin. It will be an amenity, instead of an eyesore. The Water Bureau will pay a person full time to help make it secure, and work on the Butte‚ they will be a full time caretaker.”

Asked about filtration, the commissioner said, “The city has filed a lawsuit against the federal government. We are challenging their requirements. New York City has joined in the suit.”

As for long-term goals, Leonard says they plan to build an interpretive center on Powell Butte. “It is part of a five year master plan. Part of the permanent structure might be an original work cabin built at Bull Run. We’d dismantle it, bring it here, and restore it.”

Concerns about Graffiti
When Commissioner Leonard asked about neighbors’ concerns, many voiced their ire regarding the marked increase in graffiti.

“In many places here, this problem is out of control,” stated Leonard. “It is rising to the level of being unacceptable. I regularly drive Powell, Foster and Division heading to City Hall; I see it every day. I’m working on an ordinance regarding graffiti. The idea is that spray paint will be put in a secure location in stores; and buyers will sign a book when they buy it. There are civil rights challenges involved.”

As for ourselves, we thank Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbors for welcoming us to attend all of there meetings‚ especially the most delicious one of the year!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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