|Sent on:||Wednesday, April 10, 2013 9:27 PM|
Monday's meeting of the Portland Bike/Ped Advisory Committee had interesting news on a number of fronts, which I thought you all might be interested in.
P.S. Last call for Meetup polls:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Christian MilNeil
Date: Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 3:46 PM
Subject: [pbpac] April 2013 meeting notes
To: [address removed]
Portland bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee
April 2013 meeting
April 8, 5:30 pm, City Hall room 209
Jen Claster (chair), Betsy Critchfield (BCM), Zack Barowitz, Damon Yakovleff, Bryan Hill, Ian Jacob, Clifford Tremblay, Christian MilNeil, Alex Landry, Kurt Steiner, Brooke Burkett, Bobbi Keppel
RECYCLE A BICYCLE PROGRAM (Brooke):
Brooke works at Camp Ketcha in Scarborough, runs summer day camps and school year programs with outdoor activities. The camp has a grant from the Sprague Fdn. to investigate the feasibility of an outdoor gear lending library and recycle-a-bicycle bike shop program. Portland has had similar programs in the past, this would also include other outdoor gear plus low-cost rentals of bikes, ice skates, etc. Eventually they'd like to include a retail storefront as well, so that kids could fix bikes, tents, etc., and sell them.
Brooke is seeking potential volunteers for an advisory committee and shop space, ideally a place that could be converted into a storefront. Focused on East Bayside but open to other ideas, ideally near schools. She'll send a description of the project to the group email list plus a link to a survey.
CONGRESS SQUARE PARK (Bobbi)
Last year the developers of the new Eastland Hotel proposed to replace Congress Square Park with a large ballroom. Though many agree that the current park is a sad place in need of improvement, this proposal has been very contentious. Bobbi would like the committee to take a stand on this issue based on the park's value as a resting place and pedestrian amenity on Congress St. downtown.
Ian J. and Clifford T. have been involved in Friends of Congress Square. Ian gave a brief history of the park, which was created in the late 1970s from an Urban Development Action Grant (defunct HUD program). The park replaced a Dunkin Donuts, originally a Walgreens drugstore, while also funding the new wing of the Portland Museum of Art and renovations at the Eastland Hotel. He had just spoken with city planner Alex Jaegerman, who says that the city 'is not super excited' to sell the park, but would like to support the Eastland Hotel, which has never prospered in recent years. There's an apparent stalemate because the city is unwilling to give up 100% of the park's real estate, but the hotel developers need most of the space to make a ballroom workable.
Bobbi: the intersection of Congress and High is in flux due to possible 2-way conversion. This development would quiet traffic and make the park more welcoming.
Ian: encourages people to get involved with Friends of Congress Square. They'll meet next on May 7th at 6 pm in Room 24 of City Hall (basement level).
Bobbi: the space needs more benches. She asked Dave Marshall but he was unresponsive, claiming it's not his district. Encourages people to email Kevin Donoghue, the district rep.
Ian: 2 benches just appeared there this weekend. The park is actually overseen by Jan Beitzer from Portland Downtown District.
Christian M. notes that Jan Beitzer supported the hotel proposal. Bad to have the person in charge of the park to be taking stands against the park. Beitzer also opposed the Open Streets planning. Would be nice to see the city replace Beitzer with someone more supportive of the downtown's creative economy.
Alex L.: sat on the Congress Sq. citizen's redesign committee. They met once with little advance notice. Says that the committee was "designed to be a little useless." He suggests a resolution from the committee.
Christian M. asks what the resolution would be, in the absence of any formal proposals. Suggests something in line w/ reactivating the citizens' design process, since the hotel proposal seems to be going nowhere.
Zack B.: disagrees with preserving the park, wants buildings and storefronts. He notes that there's opportunity to add public space on the southern side of Congress, in front of the museum, by closing the short section of Free St. as has been proposed several times in the past.
Jen C. asks if we're going to do a resolution. Christian M. suggests that we bounce ideas around on the email list rather than try to wordsmith something on the fly.
Note: keep an eye on the city's Housing and Community Development meeting agendas, here: http://www.portlandmaine.gov/cdc.htm. Any action on Congress Square will show up here first, most likely as an "executive session" where the Councilors will discuss terms of a possible sale.
WALKING SCHOOL BUS (Betsy)
Betsy and the Bike Coalition are working on a "walking school bus" program launching 4/24, starting w/ Reiche and East End Schools but expanding to Riverton and Lyseth. This would involved adult chaperones walking groups of kids to school, along a route designed to pick up students along the way (as a school bus would). Targets kids within 1 mi. radius of schools. Betsy notes that East End Sch. buses kids from East Bayside to the hilltop (less than 1/2 a mile away), a big expense that requires multiple bus trips per day.
The program needs adult volunteers to walk once per week, about a 1 hour commitment. This spring's pilot last 8 weeks. Volunteer training April 22. Website at portlandwalkingschoolbus.com