Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 29th, 2011 at 12:15 pm
There are some new developments in the project to improve bicycling and traffic safety on N. Williams Avenue.
Following the most recent Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting on August 2nd, project staff have announced that in lieu of a September meeting, they will host two tours of the street in order to give SAC members (and the public) a first-hand look at existing conditions.
On Tuesday, September 6th there will be a Bicycling Tour and on Thursday, September 8th there will be a Walking and Bus Tour. Both events begin at 4:30 pm and the public is welcome to attend. If you'd like to join either tour, RSVP by this Friday (9/2) to project consultant Michelle Poyourow at poyourowconsulting[at]gmail[dot]com.
"You must have some guiding principles to frame the way that you move forward. It must be right, it must be just, and it must be fair. This is about building the community that serves the needs of all."
— Avel Gordly, former Oregon State Representative and current black studies professor at PSU
The Community Forum to discuss the broader social issues of racism and gentrification that have come up during the Williams project that was tentatively scheduled for September has been pushed back until October. In an email to stakeholders, Poyourow said more time is needed to coordinate schedules with "decision makers at the City" who have expressed interest in attending. "We want to make sure this is really a productive, positive event," Poyourow wrote, "so I hope you agree it's worth taking the time to get it right."
For those of you who are following this project closely, the most recent SAC meeting minutes (from 8/2 meeting) have been published (links to PDF).
Judging from the meeting minutes (I wasn't there), it's clear that the public process around this project has essentially started anew. Even though the SAC first met eight months ago, concerns about an under-representation of African Americans on the committee and misgivings from local residents who weren't comfortable with the pace or the potential outcome of the project, forced PBOT to hit the pause button.
PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice acknowledges the previous work put in by the original SAC members and said (via meeting minutes) she, "doesn’t want the existing committee to get discouraged with these changes."
As for whether or not the discussion of how to fix Williams is starting with a clean slate, Vanderslice noted that, "The expanded committee will revisit some questions." Vanderslice didn't say how long the process would take, but promised it "will not go on forever."
However the project progresses, it will be done with a much greater focus on how the changes on the street impact the social issues that define the surrounding neighborhood.
At the last SAC meeting, noted politician and current professor of black studies at Portland State University Avel Gordly shared her thoughts. Gordly implored SAC members to consider the long-term impacts of their decision. Here's an excerpt from her comments (taken from the meeting minutes):
"You’re going to make decisions that inform public policy for years to come. You must have some guiding principles for your decision making. You must act in a way that is right, and just and fair.
... I’ve lived here for 64 years, and I’ve seen some things that are not right, and not just and not fair. You need to keep asking questions about public policy, and whose interests are being served. Ask who is making the assumptions.
... You must have some guiding principles to frame the way that you move forward. It must be right, it must be just, and it must be fair. This is about building the community that serves the needs of all."
— Browse the BikePortland archives for complete coverage of the Williams Ave project.