Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 10th, 2012 at 5:01 pm
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland
Less than one week after announcing their new store on N. Williams Avenue, New Seasons Market CEO Lisa Sedlar attended the monthly meeting of the North Williams Avenue Traffic Safety Operations project Stakeholder Advisory Committee today.
“We have lots of staff that bike to work up and down that corridor all day long on N. Williams and a lot of us drive as well. So these issues are near and dear to our hearts…”
— Lisa Sedlar
The chain’s decision to locate their
12th 13th store in this area comes on the heels of a wide-ranging community discussion about how changes to Williams Avenue might affect long-time residents. While reaction to the New Seasons announcement has been very positive, there are specific concerns about how a new (and likely very busy) grocery store on a currently vacant parcel of land will impact what is already a high volume traffic corridor with serious safety and livability concerns.
Sedlar addressed the committee during the public comment period at the end of the meeting. After thanking the committee for their work, she reminded those in attendance that New Seasons’ store support office is located in the Vancouver/Williams corridor:
“We have lots of staff that bike to work up and down that corridor all day long on N. Williams and a lot of us drive as well. So these issues are near and dear to our hearts and safety is the most important concern for us.”
Sedlar added that their objective is to “partner” with neighborhood associations and “listen to what they want and need.”
During the meeting that preceded her comments, the topic of System Development Charges (known as SDCs, fees paid to the City by developers to offset impacts new buildings have on the transportation network) was raised. Sedlar acknowledged these fees, saying, “There are a lot of SDCs involved in this… It’s a lot of money.”
“Hopefully that money,” she continued, “is going toward improving the safety and traffic conditions up and down N. Williams.”
Another topic discussed at today’s meeting was how to best remember the unfortunate history of disinvestment and discrimination in the area. Sedlar told the committee she’d like to be involved in any efforts to create a physical memorial of that past. They’ve kept some bricks that were on the lot when they first came to the neighborhood to scout the new location. The bricks were part of a building, Sedlar said, “that was facing Williams.” The building housed a printing press that was used by Portland’s first African-American newspaper.
“We’d love to find a way to use them,” Sedlar shared, “we specifically saved them because we wanted to find a way to memorialize the site.”
In an answer to a question from a committee member about traffic concerns. Sedlar said her company is already in contact with PBOT and that they’ll “do everything we can to make sure the neighborhood is safe.”
I’ve got a phone interview planned with Sedlar tomorrow morning and I plan to ask her more details about bike access and other transportation issues. Stay tuned.