As a fairly recent transplant to Eliot I am excited for the developments along Williams and Vancouver. The addition of New Seasons and mixed use residential buildings are just the beginning of local economic growth, and this has the benefit of also increasing scrutiny of factors that affect Eliot as a walkable and healthy neighborhood. There is a general theory of walk-ability that requires satisfaction of four main criteria: it must be useful, safe, comfortable and interesting. Having a grocery store return to Eliot will meet the first criteria, and I for one will enjoy the proximity of my favorite place to shop. The nature of walking allows you to meander and find your most interesting and safe route, although the two can often be mutually exclusive. Safety for pedestrians, a very fragile group, requires well-lit paths, well-marked crossings, a buffering from cars and an overall sense of security. Residents of Eliot must deal with high traffic volumes, and a proximity to the freeway that compromises this sense of security.
At the December Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting, a subcommittee of the Eliot Neighborhood Association, residents of Cook Street were able to discuss their concerns about traffic with a representative of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. They spoke about cars and trucks that use Cook Street as a high speed thoroughfare, which it is not designed for, and greatly compromises the health and safety of families on the street. By providing a cohesive voice, residents were able to advocate for temporary and permanent changes that would address their concerns. The City, in turn, was able to provide tangible measures to improve the safety of Cook Street, as part of the overall area transportation changes proposed for Williams and Vancouver. This is the benefit of new development and getting involved; residents can have a direct impact on the outcome and shape development to match neighborhood identity. Eliot has a rich history, and has experienced many changes through the years. As a resident of Eliot, it is important to me that future changes contribute to a higher quality of life, and provide interesting and safe routes to neighborhood amenities.
If you would like to know more about getting involved, please attend a Board or Land Use meeting. See the meeting schedule at http://www.eliotneighborhood.org.