SE Updates October 2015

Mt. Tabor Reservoir Disconnection

October marks the beginning of disconnection of Mt. Tabor’s reservoirs from Portland’s drinking water.

Portland Water Bureau (PWB) reports that exploratory excavation known as potholing will begin in designated work areas to enable contractor James W. Fowler to determine the size and depth of pipes, valves and other aspects of the water system. JWF is an Oregon-based heavy tunneling contractor providing services for municipalities and private agencies.

Work to cap outlet pipes and place screens on inlet pipes for Reservoir 6 and Reservoir 1 are also scheduled to begin this month. All work will be done in the reservoirs and gatehouses. Once complete, reservoirs will be filled at 85% of historic levels. The water, however, will no longer be considered potable.

Portland Water Bureau is calling the disconnection The Mt. Tabor Reservoir Adjustment Project. It is intended to comply with a federal order to cover or treat open air drinking supplies.

Additionally, PWB construction crews will be working at the bottom of the stairs between Reservoir 6 and SE 60th. The area will be fenced off during approximately four weeks of construction.

The Southeast Examiner reported in last month’s issue that there could be leaking in the City’s new covered reservoirs, and PWB Public Information Officer Jaymee Cuti says that assessment is incorrect.

“All leaking cracks were repaired before the Powell Butte Reservoir went online in September 2014. Cracks are a normal and expected part of concrete construction. In fact, the contract anticipated cracks and specified how they would be repaired – that is an industry standard. The reservoir meets all drinking water and performance standards.”MP

Going solar in Ladd’s

Ladd’s resident Laura Weiss decided to go solar so she applied to the city for a permit but was denied because city staff said the Ladd’s Addition Conservation guidelines say solar panels should be inconspicuous from the street.

Their panels were proposed to be placed on the west-facing roof, perpendicular to the street, so they would be somewhat visible, but not conspicuous.

Weiss appealed the decision to the Historic Landmark Commission basing the case on the strict interpretation of the word “inconspicuous.”The Commission granted the appeal.

Weiss said, “This is an important change in the city’s policy and interpretation of the guidelines and means that homeowners in Ladd’s who have wanted to go solar but were discouraged or denied by the city can now do so.”

If the panels meet a certain criteria size-wise, the EPA and the Department of Energy offers tax credits for solar-powered systems. Thirty percent of the cost of your Solar Electric System and installation can be deducted from your federal tax bill.  Eventually the savings make up for the initial outlay of money. NT

Inner SE losing its creatives

Redevelopment in the Central Eastside Industrial area is pushing local artists from their studios to outposts away from town.

A large swath of creatives are being evicted from the distinctive old Towne Storage Building off Burnside St. Tenants in the 30–year–old artist co-op at the historic Troy Laundry Building on 11th St. have received notice from property management that the building is in play to be sold.

Whether they will be evicted or merely see rents rise remains uncertain.

“It’s shameful,” said artist–in–residence William Tuch, an award–winning designer of knives favored by local chefs. “First, artists were pushed out of the Pearl. Now it’s Southeast. It’s changing the face and the feel of the City. Where will we go? Gresham? Milwaukee?”

Observers say sharing spaces and creative energy can be invaluable, but in addition to changing ownerships, gentrification raises rents beyond the reach of many artists.

At Towne Storage, some 50 artists, in addition to small business owners and hundreds of renters of storage units, need to vacate the building by month’s end so it can undergo a complete overhaul and renovation.

The good news is that the 79,000 square foot building, circa 1916, will be spared. The renovations may not accommodate the artists, photographers and designers who currently make a living here though.

“The community of professional creatives and small business is extraordinary,” says booktender David Abel, owner of Passages Bookshop (a top floor studio with what he describes as “the best view” in the city). “It’s like a small family once you’ve been here a while.”

Abel was drawn to Portland from New York and points East by the City’s reputation as artist-friendly. “The people here were pioneers. The danger is that we will lose these pockets of talent.”

Tenants credit building manager Debbie Kool with being instrumental in helping soon-to-be-displaced renters. However, with her own future uncertain, Kool was unable to comment on plans that the landmark building would be transformed into highend condos with a penthouse on the roof.

As artists scramble to find affordable space, Abel says he is one of the lucky ones to have found reasonably-priced space nearby.

“It’s enormously difficult to find close–in affordable space. The options are getting smaller. You pay a lot more for lower quality space.” MP

SE Updates October 2015

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