‘So where’s the redevelopment?’ Lents residents ask – but hear few answers

But there were no answers from a Prosper Portland official at this neighborhood meeting, when asked about the promised redevelopment in Lents Town Center …

On Mt. Scott, in the Community Connections Center in the Lents Neighborhood, the February, 2022 meeting of the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association comes to order.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

When 21 neighbors got together for the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association (LNLA) meeting on Thursday evening, February 10, they’d hoped to learn why it seems that redevelopment in Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Area (LTCURA), created in June 1998, has stalled.

Unfortunately, Prosper Portland Development Manager Karl Dinkelspiel, who is currently in charge of the LTCURA – a City of Portland redevelopment area, funded by “Tax Increment Financing” (TIF) – wasn’t able to attend the meeting as planned, due to illness.

However, Prosper Portland Project Manager Windol Cador, who said he’s relatively new with the Bureau, and was also scheduled to attend and did come. But, he told the group that his presentation was of the Bureau’s Community Livability Grant (CLG) Program.

Starting off, Prosper Portland Project Manager Windol Cador presents information about the Bureau’s Community Livability Grant Program.

Cador told the group that the Lents Town Center TIF District had $200,000 in grants to award – but only if the project was hosted by a nonprofit organization.

“The project location must be located within the boundaries of Lents,” Cador explained. “The type of project must involve real property improvements; it could be community improvement work, restoration, and/or street cleanups, such as in open spaces.

“And it’s important that your application is received no later than April 29 – no exceptions!” he said.

A ‘Foster Road Update’
In the absence of Development Manager Karl Dinkelspiel, Cador presented information about applications in the district.

“We have applications from a number of different people that are wanting to open businesses along SE Foster Road – including restaurants, a bakery, and a film studio that is also locating on the street,” Cador announced.

Windol Cador provides a ‘Foster Road Update’ for the group.

A neighbor piped up that it was her understanding that all of those businesses were actually considerably west on SE Foster Road, far outside Lents Town Center, in fact, as far as SE 52nd Avenue, and within the catchment of the Foster Area Business Association – not the Lents Grown Business Association.

“Yes, these businesses are below (west of) SE 82nd Avenue (of Roses), affirmed Cador, reminding that he was relatively new, and his focus at the Bureau is on promoting the CLG Program.

Another neighbor remarked, “On the Prosper Portland site it says that the property for lease in the Lents Commons building is located in the Foster-Powell neighborhood, not the Lents neighborhood – right there at SE 92nd Avenue and Foster Road. What’s up with that?”

“I assure you, someone will take care of that,” Cador responded.

This Prosper Portland map shows why the name of the district, the “LTCURA”, can be misleading about its actual service boundaries.

According to the Prosper Portland website, the LTCURA serves:

  • Neighborhoods: Argay, Brentwood-Darlington, Creston-Kenilworth, Foster Powell, Lents, Mt. Scott-Arleta, Powellhurst-Gilbert, South Tabor, and Woodstock.
  • Business Associations: Division/Clinton Business Association, Foster Area Business Association, Midway Business Association, 82nd Ave Business Association, and Woodstock Community Business Association.

 

Questions about LTCURA freely flow

Longtime area business person Gary Sargent, of Sargents Motorsports, asked what has been happening in the LTCURA, since the “Lents Urban Renewal Advisory Committee” was disbanded by the then-named Portland Development Commission back in 2013.

“It’s my understanding that Prosper Portland has taken 20% of the budget for ‘managing’ projects, and the money – but, nothing has happened,” Sargent offered.

“For example, a few years ago, millions of dollars were budgeted, every year, for road improvements in Lents – but drive on SE Foster Road east of 92nd Avenue, and you’ll likely get a blown-out tire or damaged suspension from the potholes!” he asserted.

Gary Sargent, an active member of the “Lents Urban Renewal Advisory Committee” until it was disbanded in 2013, politely expresses his frustration with the LTCURA’s management by Prosper Portland.

“But, it seems like inner SE Foster Road has ‘soaked up’ millions of dollars to turn a roadway with four vehicle lanes into a two-lane street, and fancy it up with a ‘streetscape’ along the way,” Sargent went on. “Okay, I’ve been working up to my question: Where is the LTCURA money?”

Cador responded, “The money is there. Unfortunately, Karl Dinkelspiel is the person who can answer your questions about this.”

Another neighbor asked how much of the funding allotted to the LTCURA has been spent – and, specifically, on what projects.

“Why was ‘Lents Advisory Committee’ disbanded back then?” was another question.

Yet another attendee asked pointedly, “Who, specifically is in charge of LTCURA finances?”

“These are all good questions, but they are out of my area; I came here to present the information regarding the CLG Program,” Cador responded.

Prosper Portland’s Windol Cador does his best to field the questions from displeased neighbors, but they are not in his area of expertise.

“I will tell you is that there is a focus group called ‘Problem Solvers’ that Sam Adams and Mayor Wheeler are conducting in different neighborhoods; let them know that you want to be part of the focus group they will come out and talk to you,” suggested Cador.

Substantial and diligent research could not locate a “Problem Solvers” focus group associated with the City of Portland. However, we did discover a webpage for “The Mayor’s Strategic Innovation Group” and subset “Strategic Innovations Group; CLICK HERE to open it.

Cador closed out his presentation by saying, “We, as an organization, are also frustrated by the lack of progress, because we want to see things getting done. We look forward to working with all of you in the future.”

To learn more about the LNLA, including their meeting time and location, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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