‘Talk with Tom time’ gives neighbors and business people direct access to mayor

See what folks in northeast Portland thought about their 10 minutes with Tom Potter …

Margaret Erickson, Marcy Emerson-Peters and Valerie Curry talk with Tom Potter at Beal St. NW.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton

While many citizens of Portland question some of Mayor Tom Potter’s plans and programs, his “10 minutes with the Mayor” program continues to be a success.

After speaking with Mayor Potter on May 6, Valery Curry of Argay told us, “The fact we were able to get the Mayor’s ear on issues important to our residents is good. We talked about the deterioration of the neighborhood and the crime that’s moved in.

Asked about a specific issue, Curry said speeding on residential streets continues to be a problem. “For more than 10 years we’ve been trying to get help. Mayor Potter said he was surprised that PDOT has not been able to respond to this one single thing for us in a decade. He says he will take steps in that direction.”

Parkrose Neighborhood Association’s chair, Marcy Emerson-Peters, said the face-to-face meeting with the mayor enabled their group to express their issues. “I told him about our concerns about crime and prostitution on Sandy Blvd.”

She added that it isn’t just business people who want to clean up Sandy Blvd. “Neighbors both live and shop here. We’d like to see Parkrose re-established as a good area, so we can attract more quality businesses here.”

Did she feel listened to?

“The Mayor says he’ll talk the matter over with people in City Hall,” Emerson-Peters responded. “He’ll says he’ll take specific concerns to the appropriate bureaus and help find out information and resources we need.”

Business people speak out
Wayne Stoll, president of the Parkrose Business Association, also paid a visit to the Mayor at Beal St. NW (located at 10721 NE Sandy Blvd.).  Stoll said he discussed a wide range of concerns, from street improvement to city zoning, with the mayor. “He seemed to listen. At least, we’re being heard.”Margaret Erickson, co-owner of Beal Street NW, the location of the May 6 event, was upbeat about her time with Tom.

“I enjoyed having ability to talk with him about things that are concerning us. He was very receptive. Best part was that he actually listened to what we had to say. He didn’t talk at us, he really listened, and his people took notes. I don’t think mayors normally do that kind of thing.”

Erickson said she told the mayor how businesses and neighbors were doing their best to help Parkrose be seen “in a little different light; that we’re a good area to come visit. My basic complaint was that there are a lot of people and businesses who, using their money and influence, can go to the planning commission and get things done. As a small business person, we don’t have that option.”

What the mayor says he learned
“What I get to hear,” Potter told us, “are things I never get to hear sitting at my desk downtown. On Sandy Blvd., some of the businesses out here are having problems. There is some prostitution and drug-dealing in the area. Traffic problems, like speeders: All of these things add up to making neighborhoods less livable.

“We record every issue described to us. We send these concerns along to every Portland City bureau, and ask them to respond to me ‚Äì not just the neighbors.”

Asked what surprised him that he heard at the meetings, the mayor said, “I’ve heard comments that some of the people down at City Hall have been rude. I’m checking in on this. We didn’t have any specific names today. But we will look into it. We’re trying to improve the “customer service” residents get from their city. You don’t achieve customer service with rude treatment.

“The upside is they are very pleased with the police, other than they say there are not enough officers out here. It was a good conversation.”

With a smile, Mayor Potter turned away and said as he sat down at a table, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, David, I’m looking forward to having some great barbecue here at Beal Street NW.”

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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