Minutes of the West End Neighborhood Association (WENA) Meeting
Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Reiche Community Room
Board members present: Leana Good-Simpson, Ian Jacob (president), Michel Michaud, Elizabeth Parsons (secretary), Pamela Shaw, Clifford Tremblay
Board members absent: Jennifer Defilipp (excused), Wells Lyons (excused), Chip Martin
Others present: David Argitis, Eunice Bentley, Pauline Bonnet, Marie-Gaelle Casset-Ford, Sarah Colton, Eli Dale, Norris Dale, Jeanette Good, Rosanne Graef, Peter Hall, Suzanne Hunt, Alyssa Lodewick, Christine McHale, Janet Mishoe, Susan Nelson, Lin Parsons, Kitty Purrington, Richard Rasner, Ed Rae, Penny Rich, Sue Rudalevige, Lisa Scali, Steven Scharf, Spencer Thibodeau, Charity West, Tony Zeli
The meeting was called to order at 6:32 PM.
Minutes from December’s meetings were considered. Under the section entitled, “Resolution to Reduce Number of Board Members,” Michel Michaud suggested a correction to the first sentence from “change WENA’s by-laws requirement” to “change WENA’s requirements.” The minutes were then accepted as amended.
The current total in WENA’s regular account is $1014.09. The Swim Fund stands at $3091.01. This report was accepted as given.
Councilor Thibodeau announcements
Spencer Thibodeau updated the group on a number of issues:
- The flashing light at the intersection of Danforth and Brackett will be set to a four-way blinking red. By spring time, the plan is to replace the lights with stop signs. Spencer is working to help ensure that installation of stop signs will minimally affect parking.
- The recycling bins behind Trader Joe’s are being moved to the parking lot across from the Irving station on Commercial St. This temporary shift is to accommodate the Midtown construction project but could become permanent if people find it helpful.
- Improvements to the cross-walks on Brackett and Clark Streets across from Reiche will be made in the spring. Two or three caution lights are also planned, though these may not be installed until summertime.
- Spencer is pushing for a school bond to help with capital improvements at Reiche and other City schools.
- He and City Manager, Jon Jennings, are scheduled to meet soon to discuss walkway lighting improvements throughout District Two.
A Q and A followed his presentation and it was suggested that a West End representative be included in any City deliberations about walkway lighting improvements.
Board member announcements/reports
David Argitis and Sarah Colton reported on a number of items, specifically addressing Ian Jacob’s request for an update on crime statistics in the West End.
- Since 1November, there have been two robberies in the West End and four in Parkside.
- Prostitution activity continues in the Walker Street area. The Crime Reduction Unit is aware and working on the issue but it is very difficult to make arrests.
- The recent spate of fires reported by the media all occurred in East Deering on 12 January. Although identified as arson, the fires were small and are being considered “fairly minor in nature.”
- The red van discussed at last month’s meeting has been seen again in the West End. The driver is not a Portland resident and there are no grounds, at this point, for the Portland police to take any action. David and Sarah will forward the vehicle’s license plate number as requested by members of the group.
Some discussion and a brief Q and A followed this report.
Multi-lingual West End – Part 2
As part of WENA’s effort to provide information on the neighborhood’s diverse population, Marie-Gaelle Casset-Ford, teacher/director of La Petite École (www.lapetiteecole.org), provided information on this bilingual, arts-based preschool on Spring Street. A co-teacher and a parent of a former student also spoke. La Petite École takes children ages three to six years old, offering a full day program year round. The School will host an open house on 11 February and a benefit dinner at Flatbread on 23 February. A Q and A followed this presentation and Ian invited a representative of the school to attend WENA meetings regularly.
Neighborhood based resources for asylum seekers and homeless residents
As part of WENA’s effort to provide information relevant to public conversations about immigration and housing, representatives of two West End churches came to discuss their community work.
Richard Rasner of St. Luke’s Episcopal Cathedral (www.stlukesportland.org) spoke about St. Elizabeth’s Essentials Pantry. This program serves 250-300 people every Tuesday, supplying them with items that cannot be bought with food stamp funds. Approximately 60% of those who come are recent immigrants with the remainder being poor city residents. Saint Elizabeth’s has increasingly begun providing information in multiple languages to those seeking a range of services. St. Luke’s Cathedral clergy participate in an ecumenical clergy group that works to better coordinate the many services being offered by local faith communities while also avoiding duplication of effort. A Q and A followed his presentation.
Jeanette Good and Eunice Bentley of State Street United Church of Christ (www.statestreetchurch.org) then spoke about their work with marginalized residents. They see many homeless people and those with serious mental health issues. In the last decade the number of immigrants has increased as well. State Street UCC offers a clothing closet that serves from 20 to 50 people each Wednesday. The congregation also works closely with many African newcomers: addressing emotional and spiritual needs (including trauma work) and offering English tutoring that supplements Portland Adult Education classes. State Street participates in the local ecumenical clergy group as well. A Q and A followed this presentation and the idea of WENA “adopting” an immigrant family was suggested.
Sidewalk snow removal
Ian Jacob met with Steve Early, who is in charge of the City’s winter operations, to report that snow removal after the year’s first storm had been inadequate in the West End. Ian reviewed the City’s snow removal ordinance and pointed out problems with how it can be interpreted. He also mentioned these issues to Jon Jennings who has stated that the ordinance is not usable as written and will be revised. Meanwhile, we are all encouraged to report snow removal problems via Fix-it Portland which is available on the City’s website and on our own.
Rosanne Graef gave a brief history of the Book Nook and asked for more volunteers to staff it. Located in the community room, the Book Nook is open from 8:00 to 10:00 AM, Mondays through Thursdays. While the adult book section is well stocked, the Nook needs more children’s books. Donations would be most welcome.
Reiche’s Winter Fest
Susan Nelson noted that this event is scheduled to take place on 23 January. For more information, consult www.reiche.portlandschools.org.
The meeting adjourned at 8:04 PM.