Midway businesspeople receive neighborhood activity update

Find out what these folks learned about what’s happening in southern outer East Portland’s largest neighborhood …

Another meeting of the Midway Business Association gets underway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Members and guests who attend Midway Business Association (MBA) monthly meetings get more than simply the opportunity to network. They also gain a wealth of information about their area.

For example, Portland Police Bureau Neighborhood Response Team Officer Joe Young shared how potential Portland budget cutbacks might affect policing in the area. His partner, Officer Chris Barber, fielded questions about “Occupy Movement” squatters breaking into and living in vacated homes.

After a brief update of the Midway-area “Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative” program’s progress, the organization’s guest speaker, Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association (PGNA) President Mark White, spoke to the group.

Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association President Mark White addresses the MBA about the issues and concerns of their neighborhood.

White first acknowledged he was running for a Portland City Council seat, but promised his talk wouldn’t turn into a campaign speech.

Outer SE Powell Boulevard continues to be a major transportation snag in the area, White said. “ODOT is still looking for funding for the highway improvement project. There’s a budget of about $5.5 million now, but the cost of making major improvements is much greater than that.”

In addition to the monthly PGNA general meeting, White said, their organization also hosts subcommittees dealing with public safety and area “greening”. The most desired feature neighbors would like to see, he said, is a Powellhurst-Gilbert Farmers Market.

Their twice-a-month return-deposit bottle and can drive will start up again in April, White added. “This drive raised about $1,500 for the association last year.”

This year, White revealed, the East Portland Exposition – scheduled for July 21 – will be scaled back to being a one-day event. “And, by moving it to Earl Boyles Park, we’ll eliminate about $4,000 in permit, fencing, and security costs. Look for even more multicultural performances.”

Mark White says he’s disappointed that the Portland Charter Review Commission’s work was underfunded – and cut short.

Turning to a City-wide issue that concerns White, who served as co-chair of the Portland Charter Review Commission, he said Mayor Sam Adams mandated that the commission end its work by March 3. “Establishing an Independent Utility Commission is still up in the air – another [unresolved issue] is police accountability.”

Although mandated by the Portland City Council in 2007 for the charter review process to begin in 2010, White said that the process didn’t really begin until early 2011. “This is a very complex document. It takes time to review it enough to be able to understand it. The Charter Commission wasn’t given staffing or funding for public engagement sufficient to really affect change.”

The Midway Business Association next meets on March 13. Come learn about this business group, which is dedicated to helping neighbors and businesses improve the southern end of Outer East Portland. This month’s guest speaker will be Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, organizers say. She will be speaking about the City of Portland’s upcoming budget and how it affects East Portland.

Visitors are welcome, and the presentation is free (but you’d pay for your own lunch). The meeting runs from 11:45 AM until 1 PM, at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON Restaurant on SE 122nd Avenue, just south of Division Street.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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