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"Built without permission, by skateboarders and later sanctioned by the city, Burnside is the preeminent example of action.... Like a magnifying glass in the sun, Burnside can witness a concentration of skill level unmatched anywhere. You can see crazy, crazy things there. Go, watch, learn, be humbled, excited and inspired. It is amazing."
- From Skate Oregon

Making Our Voices Heard

Tuesday, July 13
Last night Sage and I attended a Central Eastside Urban Renewal Advisory Committee meeting at OMSI. The meeting was, I believe, the third meeting concerning the Burnside redevelopment that the PDC, Portland Development Commission, has had for public comment. Last nights meeting had three presentations, with the first two dragging on for what seemed hours, oh wait, it was hours. The meeting started at 6:00 and didn't get to anything concerning the skatepark until after 8:00. If you've ever wondered why the city takes so long to do things, go sit in on one of their meetings.

First I just want to touch on the first two presentations that were given, traffic and marketing. (I don't remember the names of the guys who did the first presentations, so I'm just going to refer to them as the guys.) The first guy was to give his, as he liked to call it, traffic analysees. He started in on a lot of useless information that only targeted a couple of major intersections. This really set off the Kerns neighborhood assoc. representative, who was furious that it seemed the analysis seemed to ignore certain traffic agreements that were made with the Kerns neighborhood. The guy came under fire from all directions and you could tell he just wanted to crawl under the table.

Next up was the marketing guy. He was supposed to do a study on the financial effect of a Home Depot, Costco, or Target on the surrounding businesses. Because his presentation was after the traffic guy he stood up and immediately started to defend himself. It didn't work. He also came under fire from all sides. I kind of enjoyed watching the marketing guy squirm. Before the meeting, I was sitting there and he was strutting around like he was somebody important. By the time he was done, he too looked like he wanted to join the traffic guy under the table.

I'm not sure how long these guys had to do their reports, but I could have done just as well walking in there at 6:15 and not knowing a thing. There were way too many uhhh, ahhh, and ummm's. You could tell these guys had no idea what they were coming into. Maybe next time they might actually have some real data prepared.

Then came the RFP, Request for Proposal, guidelines presentation. This was done by Michael O'Connell. He went through the draft RFP guidelines we were given page by page. It was quick and to the point. Finally. He made a point of saying that there are three key words in the RFP, required, preferred, and optional. Under the design heading, one of the bullet points was
The design is required to be sensitive to adjacent uses - Union Arms, Skateboard park, etc.
I was happy to see that it is a requirement and that the skatepark is mentioned. After the presentation they opened it up to public comment. Of course, the comments were all over the place, from safety of kids to praise. I wasn't sure where, or if, I should step in and say something. Mr. O'Connell made a point before opening it up to comments that an RFP is like giving a contractor general ideas to build a house, not actual designs. That comes later in the process.

We had 4 points we wanted to bring up but they seemed to be geared more toward the design details and not general. But hey, we're skaters and we can do what we want. Like they say, the squeaky bearing is annoying as hell. So I spoke up and gave them our requests. I first made the point that if the building is built up to the edge of the bridge it would take away the natural light of the park, therefore, we need lights. It seemed that they hadn't thought of that.

I asked where the property line was, we know, but are always told something different. They said at the edge of the bridge down. Well, that gives the park around 10 ft of growing room. I plan on pushing for more space in the later meetings. Maybe build out to the edge of the bridge and try and get parking along the edge of the park, in the present parking lot. Right now, the porta-potties are on a local fruit companies property and they aren't to down with it. We made a point of saying we needed permanent facilities.

They asked how the permit parking was working out. For those of you who don't know, a year or two ago, the city made it illegal to park on the east side of 2nd, supposedly so trucks could use the space to maneuver into the neighboring warehouse, and added permit parking, with 2 hour free visitor parking, on the west side. I let them know that the permit parking is fine, but visitors to the park sometimes park in the lot next to the park and, if they aren't paying attention, they can get towed. The tow trucks are the sneaky ones that just back up to your car and lift it without the driver even getting out of the truck. I made a point of letting them know that these are usually the folks from out of town that are there to skate.

So those were the main points I made, lights, additional space, parking, and the toilet. I know that they were only looking for general guidelines but I thought I would throw those out there anyhow. I will be pushing for these things throughout the process. If you have anything that you think the park needs due to a huge development going in next door to the park, leave a comment or e-mail me. Just remember, we don't want the city to help with the park, as in money, structural, cleaning, etc. I think that if they start doing these things they would be able to impose certain restrictions on the park.

That's it. Go skate!

7/13/2004 10:47:00 AM :: ::
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