Downtown Montavilla gets new ‘Public Plaza’

INCLUDES VIDEO VIGNETTE Discover why volunteers with the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association created a new outer East Portland ‘Public Plaza’, just off their downtown’s main street …

Looking north along SE 79th Avenue, away from Stark Street, volunteers pitch in to turn this street segment into the Montavilla Public Plaza.

Story and photos by David F Ashton

A number of volunteers from the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association (METBA)  came out an a delightful summer day, ready to begin turning a segment of SE 79th Avenue, running north of Stark Street, into the new “Portland Public Plaza” on Thursday, July 22.

Enlisting the help of her daughter, PBOT Transportation Planner Gena Gastaldi roller paints at the north end of the new the Montavilla Public Plaza.

“This is ‘Public Plaza’ project is part of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) program called Safe Streets Healthy Businesses,” observed PBOT Transportation Planner Gena Gastaldi, who picked up a paint brush to help out.

According to PBOT’s webpage:

Community-led plazas are a key component of PBOT’s Safe Streets Initiative, PBOT’s Covid-19 response framework. As Portland begins to emerge from the pandemic, the Bureau will continue its work connecting communities and supporting economic recovery and reinvestment, as we work toward a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable future.

In this plaza, blocked off from vehicle traffic, Gastaldi revealed that it will feature public seating, and will be available to host public events through October 31.

METBA Past-President Tina Granzo, of City Beautiful Design, says she’s enthusiastic about this plaza project.

“With Gina, from PBOT, we worked to get permits for ‘Public Plaza’ in a different location last summer – but that plan got bogged down,” recalled METBA Acting President Neil Mattson, of Montavilla Guitar Studio, as the crew took a hydration break.

“Then, we shifted our focus to this,” Mattson continued. “Essentially, putting in a ‘plaza’ is a great way to fulfill some of the city’s objectives to help local business districts – and, at the same time, it’s also a good way to highlight our neighborhood, and ‘take back’ some of the spaces we’re not well utilizing,” he told East Portland News.

“I think the “Montavilla Public Plaza’ will bring more traffic to our shops and restaurants, and encourage people to stop, take a break, and take advantage of what our community has to offer,” Mattson posited.

Montavilla neighbor Lisa Williams demonstrates her painting talents at the plaza.

Montavilla Street Fair to return in 2022
Asked if the Montavilla Street Fair would return later this summer, Mattson said that METBA was holding it off until next year.

“2020 was a difficult year for the neighborhood businesses, and for METBA as well,” observed Mattson. “When business owners are struggling, they don’t have the capacity to volunteer on the business Association’s board of directors.

“So, we’ve been doing strategic planning; and we made a decision that we would focus on internally-strengthening our organization, and not hold any of our public events this year,” Mattson explained.

Taking a break to enjoy pizza, provided by nearby Flying Pie Pizzeria, is Colin O’Neill with City Repair, the lead ‘Public Plaza’ painting contractor.

After only a few hours of work, the painting of the street for the Montavilla Public Plaza is well underway.

“Now, METBA is looking forward to holding our grand ‘signature event’, the Montavilla Street Fair, in 2022, as our major goal,” Mattson said.

For more information about the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association, and to learn about possible events this summer in the Montavilla Public Plaza, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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