By Jill Riebesehl
Fire and medical rescues, building changes, and open space landed on the Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood District Association board’s agenda in late February.
At the HAND board’s invitation, Portland Fire Chief Mike Myers, Battalion Chief Erik Oatfield and Deputy Chief Vince Wilson attended the Feb. 20 meeting. Chief Myers, on the job for 1.5 years, had noticed a “hole in service” in our area. Station 23 at Milwaukie and Powell was closed for ten years, and reopened late last year, staffed to respond to medical emergencies every day. Myers’ mission is get it fully staffed, complete with fire-fighting apparatus and capability.
Regarding fire and medical rescues, we were assured that despite our old neighborhood with its narrow streets chockfull of parked cars, the bureau can handle any emergency within its purview. The chiefs pointed out the ladder trucks that can take corners, the 1,000-plus-foot-long fire hoses, satellites that direct locations and new technology that can send rescuers out the door as quick as the report is coming in. Further, all fire stations are as aware of the various intersections and one-way glitches in the neighborhoods as are residents, and regularly trained for and have mapped out the most efficient routes.
Chief Myers mentioned that Mayor Ted Wheeler has tasked the bureau with finding $5 million in cuts to its budget for this next year.
Urban infill marches on. Requests for adjustments to city building codes involved one family who wanted to build a short rock wall adjacent to the sidewalk and, in contrast, a developer of a 60+ unit planned apartment building seeking adjustments to the original plan. The neighborhood does not have jurisdiction in either situation, but the owners were seeking advice, consent and neighborhood goodwill.
The board dispensed easily with the Ladds Addition home’s wall, but struggled with suggestions by developers of the apartment building at SE 28th and Division. Noise impact on nearby residents dominated discussion and the HAND board requested changes to terrace setbacks, trash pickup and sound signals on street access to the indoor parking area.
The neighborhood has precious little open green space and just one park, Piccolo Park on SE 27th. True, it has the river, Ladds Addition rose gardens and Powell Park (part of the Brooklyn Neighborhood) but for the most part, it’s a concrete/building-structure desert. A very tiny pocket park, Avalon Sanctuary, is almost hidden off Division Street and 19th at the south end of a small parking lot.
Various neighbors have taken it in hand and changed its use one way or another over the decades, and individual HAND members participate in maintaining it. The board has been asked whether it wants to take a more ownership-style role in designing a plan and is seeking advice on how to proceed.
The HAND Board meets every third Tuesday of the month at 7 pm in Carvlin Hall on the St. Philip Neri grounds at SE Division St. and 17th Ave. Meetings are open to the public, and we welcome one and all.