Editorial – MLK Gateway Project Status

The other day while walking to work I passed by the triangle where MLK and Grand come together at Hancock.  I noticed the sign announcing construction for the new gateway project to begin Spring 2011.  Then I recalled all the hubabalu about the project last May.  I was angry that our neighborhood lost out on a positive change due to the whining of a few.

Shortly after the Portland Development Commission (PDC) announced the project was moving forward, the group Active Right of Way (AROW) decided to object.  After months of planning, regular stakeholder meetings, neighbor board meetings, at least 2 public comment meetings, AROW was “coming to the rescue” trying to save the neighborhood.  Our own Land Use committee, along with individuals in the neighborhood also got into to the foray appearing in various  media opposing the project.

Apparently some wanted a sidewalk along MLK in the curve.  Others objected to the wall. City and State transportation departments had already deemed it too dangerous for the sidewalk, and the see-through wall was there to give a feeling of safety.  As it turns out the project was working within the parameters and objectives given to it.  Having had a committee stakeholder from Eliot Neighborhood and having attended planning meetings as neighborhood chair I was satisfied with the design.  But then again I had participated and not complained after the fact.

I decided to call the project manager, Irene Bowers and find out what’s going on.  She said the outcry did cause some delays, but the project is moving forward.  PDC and AROW decided to “agree to disagree”. It has taken a little longer than expected to find and secure a contractor to do the work.  I am happy to report construction should begin this fall.  It may not be perfect, but as Irene said, “it’s a good design.”  Most importantly, Eliot did not lose because of vocal minority.