IRCO hosts ‘Portland Plan’ fair

See how the Portland Plan project, the ‘blueprint for Portland’s next quarter -century’ is coming along – and why you might want to keep informed about this priority-setting project …

Matt Wickstrom, City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, and Alison Stoll, Executive Director of Central Northeast Neighbors, welcomed visitors to the Portland Plan Fair at IRCO.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
During March, the latest developments leading to the creation of the “Portland Plan” were rolled out at public events across the City.

One of these events was held at outer East Portland’s Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) on the morning of March 12, where City planner Eric Engstrom welcomed people to the event in the organization’s gym and multipurpose room.

Eric Engstrom, Principal Planner, Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, assigned to the Portland Plan, says the Bureau gets valuable feedback by holding events like the neighborhood fairs.

“These fairs offer people many ways to learn about, and comment on, the strategies we’ve developed,” Engstrom explained.

“Today, we’re providing a public viewing of the draft strategies,” Engstrom observed. “We want people to be aware of what we’re proposing. We’ve had a lot of public input up to this point, including at several large workshops last year.”

Sarah Coates Huggins, a City Planner with Portland Parks & Recreation, talks about “Healthy, Connected Neighborhoods” with outer East Portland neighbors Jim and Sandra Braet, at the fair.

Pointing to a chart, Engstrom commented that the strategies uncovered in the workshops led to proposals for “actions that address residents’ key concerns” in four areas:

  1. Equity
  2. Education
  3. Economic Prosperity & Affordability
  4. Healthy Connected Neighborhoods

“This is the opportunity for Portlanders to explore the results of that work,” continued Engstrom. “We want to know, did we get it right? Did we translate the input correctly? And, we also want to find what they think of the four strategies.”

The Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement’s Paul Leistner moderates a discussion on “Citywide equity in Portland”.

While discussions were hosted in classrooms – one each, per category – the multipurpose room featured a community fair with booths that provided an overview of the project, and spaces for community organizations to meet the visitors.

A major attraction of the fair was a free and hot middle-eastern and African lunch, served along with Latino pastries.

Engstrom pointed out that the Portland Plan project actually started with the Mayor Tom Potter-sponsored VisionPDX moderated discussions. “We started the formal effort in Fall, 2009, with the fact-finding phase. Last year the focus was on creating a set of goals and objective statements. We’re now in the ‘strategy building’ phase.”

At the fair, co-chairs of the Portland Charter Review Commission Anita Yap and Mark White – White is President of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association – share the progress of their committee with Arlene Kimura, President of the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association.

What’s next in the Portland Plan process?
“We will take the feedback from our fairs, Engstrom replied, “and actually write a draft Plan by mid-summer. By this fall, the draft plan should be on the street and be open to comment. From there, we’ll be heading to the Planning and Sustainability Commission, and present it to the Portland City Council by the end of the calendar year.”

It’s important for people to participate, Engstrom concluded, “Because they will help to identify priorities, direct investment of public dollars, and set the course for Portland for the next 25 years. If people care about what the government agencies are focusing on, they should be interested in this activity.”

For more information, or to take the Portland Plan survey, see the City’s website: CLICK HERE to open it.

Kristen Huerta, Leaha Ziegler, Michael Hagmeier – the form the trio “Karas and Friends” – entertain visitors at the IRCO Portland Plan Fair.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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