By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,254)
The annual District 1 neighborhood meeting took place this evening at the East End Community School. About sixty-one people attended the meeting, nineteen of them city employees. The meeting was facilitated by East End city councilor Kevin Donoghue, Mayor Michael Brennan and city manager Mark Rees. It’s an opportunity for the public to meet city officials and ask questions and raise concerns.
Several weeks ago, a group of concerned Hill residents approached Mayor Brennan regarding the intensified odor coming from the Sewage Treatment Facility on the Eastern Promenade. A meeting of about a dozen people was held at Promenade Towers. A consultant has been hired to prepare a report on the reasons for the intensified odor. It is expected to be completed within a week or so. In the meantime, the public is asked to contact the Portland Water District to advise them when the intensified odor occurs.
Heather Frederick expressed concern about beggars in the medians of some of Portland’s major streets and the image it presents to the public. Assistant police chief Vern Malloch said the department saw the situation as primarily a safety issue rather than an “image” issue. Panhandling is not illegal unless it’s too aggressive. Since the passage of an ordinance against graffiti, there is less of it, he said on another subject. Jenifer Wikstrom commented on the proliferation of stop signs in Portland. “They are on every corner. I find it inconvenient. What are the criteria for signs?”, she asked. Wikstrom noted signs at Cumberland Avenue & Lafayette Street as superfluous. Councilor Donoghue said he would have the city engineers look into the matter.
The recently completed recommendation from the Homeless Task Force to the city council also received some attention. Deborah Van Hoewyk, Bayside, noted that the recommendation did not address where the proposed three 35 unit housing units would be located. Bayside has received the bulk of social service offices and shelters and is this to be repeated? City manager Mark Rees responded that the public process for implemention of this recommendation, if the city council accepts it later this month, is just beginning. Mayor Brennan added that some of the neighboring communities have indicated interest in supporting Portland in this effort. “Homeless people would rather remain in their own communities than come to Portland,” he said.
Crandall Toothacker, a major Portland landlord, said that the city should focus on repairing sidewalks rather than on building affordable housing in Bayside. Toothacker also said there is a huge problem of vandalism in Bayside. Public services director, Mike Bobinsky, said the city is getting much more sophisticated in its ability to track sidewalks and their condition. There are 500 miles of sidewalks in Portland.
City manager Mark Rees said that the candidates for the city’s fire chief has been narrowed down to two candidates. He plans on conducting interviews and checking backgrounds and that he expects to present the name of the new chief to the City Council in early December.
The meeting ended at 9 pm – well before the snow started.