Commissioner Leonard meets with neighbors on his home turf

ublished March 24, 2006 ~ By David F. Ashton

Neighbors packed in Parklane Church to hear Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard speak to outer East Portlanders. David F. Ashton Photo

It isn’t often when a Portland city official comes to meet with residents in outer East Portland. 50 people attended the joint Centennial and Powellhurst-Gilbert association meeting at Parklane Church on SE Main St. on Feb 18 to hear, and question, Portland City Council member Randy Leonard.

Commissioner Leonard starting by saying he didn’t support Mayor Tom Potter’s tax idea, because it would provide outer East Portland schools with lower benefits than those given the Portland School District.

“We have fewer City parks, east off 82nd Ave.,” Leonard said, “than in the rest of the city. We‚Äôre turning some Water Bureau properties into parks.”

By July 1, Leonard continued, EPNO will move into the Hazelwood Water District building. “And, we‚Äôll take down the fences, and put in a small park.” He added this park will have a small water feature.

Fire Station 45

Will Fire Station 45 stay open?

“[Centennial vice chair] Ron Clemenson is crafty,” Leonard said, as he pointed out that Portland Fire & Rescue‚Äôs Chief Dave Sprando and Gresham‚Äôs Fire Chief had been invited to the meeting and were in the audience. “I‚Äôve fought to keep it open. We need the fire station. I don’t care if the station is relocated. But we must have firefighters in the outer East part off Portland.” Both chiefs indicated keeping Station 45 open is a priority on which they‚Äôre working.

Powell Butte filtration plant

Asked about the impending federal mandate to filter Bull Run water to prevent Cryptosporidium from being in our water supply, Leonard said it wasn‚Äôt necessary. “Human beings and cattle are the sources. Our counts show zero. Spending $400 million to solve a problem we have is out of line. He said the city was filing a court challenge the filtration rule. “If we have to build one, it will not be on Powell Butte,” he added.

Crime and drugs

“Community policing is the responsibility of all bureaus,” Leonard said regarding crime. “We‚Äôre working on an ordnance to create a task force comprised of police, fire, housing, and nuisance, to target drug houses and places where other illegal activities goes on. We focus on them one at a time until we clean them all up.”

Portland Police East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs added, “So far this year, crime is down 19%. Our CRU (Crime Reduction Unit) hammers for consent searches; we‚Äôre training officers too recognize meth users, and drug houses.”

Neighborhood livability

The question was asked, “What can Powellhurst-Gilbert residents do, along with the help of the city, to become more proud of our area and reduce crime?

“My Chief of Staff, Ty Kovach, lives in Powellhurst-Gilbert,” Leonard replied. “He bought a ‚Äòchallenged‚Äô house and cleaned it up. Encourage your neighbors to start taking pride in their homes. Politely ask people to clean up their yards. Don‚Äôt give up; the city has tools to help clean up the worst yards.” He added that graffiti appears more frequently in places where people don’t care about their area.

Housing infill

Asked about infill housing, Leonard said, “This is a maddening issue. On one hand you have people with single family homes, balanced with more people moved into the area. We also need affordable housing. We’ve set up design standards so these new houses look more like classic Portland homes.”

2006 David F. Ashton, East PDX News

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