Parkrose citizens unite to plan their area’s future

Individuals from Parkrose neighborhoods, businesses, and schools are hatching a “Master Plan” for their community. Learn why they’re doing it‚ and what they hope to accomplish‚

Leading off the Parkrose Community Workshop, Parkrose Neighborhood Association Chair Marcy Emerson-Peters welcomes the diverse group of outer NE Portland citizens who came to have a part in planning their area’s future.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While the participants of the Parkrose Community Workshop, held at the high school on April 24, came from all walks of life, they all agreed that to succeed in the future, the community needs to plan, now.

Welcoming people to the well-attended meeting, Parkrose Neighborhood Association chair, Marcy Emerson-Peters told the group why she’s involved: “I grew up here and returned to Parkrose after school.”

Because residents and business people believe Portland’s planning bureau hasn’t made a real plan for the future of Parkrose, Emerson-Peters said it is up to community members to plan for their success.

“Do we need all the porn shops? Do we need more motels? Do we need businesses that bring in family-wage jobs?” Emerson-Peters asked. “We’ll discuss these questions, and more, tonight.”

Portland Planning Bureau’s Barry Manning introduces the PSU study team.

Supported by Portland Planning Bureau
Barry Manning, Portland’s East District Planner, has helped-along the group’s process.

“I got involved in the Parkrose Vision Committee,” Manning told us. “The idea is to figure out how to make Parkrose a more successful place. Sandy is the main street of Parkrose. We’re working to discover how this area can best meet the current, and future, needs of its citizens.”

Manning enlisted the aid of Portland State University students. “They are providing technical analysis to help the community move forward.”

Wearing their green T-Shirts, PSU Masters Degree planning students listen as Todd Johnson, far right, tells how they’ve worked with the Parkrose Vision Committee and describes the activities planed for the workshop.

Student planners pitch in
Todd Johnson was the spokesperson and lead facilitator for his fellow students in PSU’s Urban and Regional Planning educational track. He, as well as the other five team members, completing their Masters degrees.

“Our ‘final assignment’ is to conduct an urban planning project in the Portland area,” commented Johnson.

He said the group of Masters-degree candidates was looking for a project that required multiple disciplines and talents. “Our group has diversity of skills, talents and interests. This community lent itself to this kind of project. It is a good fit.”

Presentation is followed by planning tasks
During a brief PowerPoint presentation, members showed the group their statistical research findings.

  • Demographics – Neighborhood population has grown an average of 2% a year over the past two decades. Age distribution indicates residents of Parkrose are slightly younger than in other areas of Portland. The median annual income is slightly lower in Parkrose; about $34,000, versus $40,000 in most other neighborhoods.
  • Economics‚ Much of the commercial property along the main business corridor, NE Sandy Blvd., is priced between $10 and 15 dollars per sq. ft. This rate is lower than in St. Johns or Alberta ‚Äì and much lower than in the Hollywood district.
  • Transportation‚ Streetscapes have been improved, as investment in turn lanes and other features have been added. The average daily traffic count is 12,000‚ not much higher than other major Portland boulevards.
  • Main Streets‚ Sandy Blvd is considered a “main street” ‚Äì this allows for business development. The area is public-transportation-friendly.
  • Truck Solume — Along the Columbia corridor, Sandy Blvd. isn’t considered a main freight route, as is NE Airport Way or Marine Drive. Yet, a significant amount of truck freight moves along Sandy Blvd.

Neighbors, business people and other interested citizens sit around tables in small groups and ponder three questions regarding the future of Parkrose.

After the presentation, the workshop attendees participated in a small-group exercise, answering three questions:

  1. What would bring you to Sandy Blvd. more often?
  2. Ten years from now, what would you like other people to think of Sandy Blvd.?
  3. What three things would make Parkrose better?

The participants’ answers were aggregated; then attendees ranked each concept by importance.

Earl DeKay (four generations of his family have been educated in Parkrose schools) and Joe Rossi look over the “Parkrose Assets Map” being used in the planning project.

Also, participants were asked to write and post comments on an “asset map” of Parkrose‚ and along a hallway-long panorama of Sandy Blvd.

Results unveiled on June 5
Johnson told us the final result of the project will be a document. It will include goals and recommendations for the use of the Parkrose Vision Committee members.

If you are interested in discovering their findings, come to Parkrose High School on June 5 at 7:00 pm.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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