By Jill Riebesehl

 

A new year, and we’re off to a flying start, tackling important issues on our drawing board: the Gideon crossing, a huge utility pole and people who live on our streets.

A while back, the HAND board was elated when we learned the feds had come up with money to replace the SE 16th Ave. pedestrian/bike bridge that was removed in building the MAX Orange Line. The motivation for this renewed funding was safety, as people were putting themselves in danger trying to cross the tracks when freight trains were stalled for extended lengths of time.

Tri-Met and the city’s Bureau of Transportation devised a plan for a new bridge, including elevator, but they placed it at SE 14th (crossing over the MAX and Union Pacific tracks to SE 13th Pl.).SE 14th is a stubbed street that trucks use to deliver product to the few businesses there. The businesses objected. The board, which represents everyone who owns property, does business or lives in the HAND neighborhood, felt a strong mandate to weigh in on the proposed Gideon bridge.

The problem dominated several of our meetings. We visited the site, listened to the various stakeholders, mulled over other possible sites, and met often with various Tri-Met and PBOT representatives. With time running out on the availability of financing, this month the board finally voted to approve the crossing, with language strongly urging that all efforts be made to create safe access for all users. The decision, however, is out of our hands, lying with the city and Tri-Met.

The Central Eastside Industrial District falls within HAND’s borders, and we sometimes concern ourselves with issues in the district that affect us both. The district’s council, the CEIC, is far along in a plan to establish an Enhanced Service District (much like the one downtown) to be paid for by the businesses. It involves cleanup, policing and graffiti removal, among other services. CEIC will be bringing their plan to the City Council soon.

Part of the plan involves how to deal with the houseless people who live or frequent the district. A consortium concerned with those aspects of the CEIC’s plan recently proposed making changes. They are calling their proposal the Compassionate Change District. The HAND board this month agreed to support the coalition’s efforts.

Last year, neighbors along SE Division were unpleasantly surprised to find a huge Verizon communications pole – disproportionate and aesthetically out of sync with the homes and the street – on the curb adjacent to Langlitz Leathers. Residents do not recall getting a notice about this and are not pleased. The HAND board has notified all the actors involved, elected city officials, employees and Verizon, of our displeasure with the lack of community involvement in the erection’s design and siting. We are making a statement in the hopes that this will not become standard operating procedure in other neighborhoods.

Anyone interested in communications by the board on these issues can find them on our website. The board meets at 7 pm every third Tuesday of the month (except August and December) in Carvlin Hall on the St. Philip Neri campus on Division St. and all are welcome.