Minutes of the West End Neighborhood Association (WENA) Meeting
Wednesday, 11 May 2016
Reiche Community Room
Board members present: Jennifer Defilipp (vice-president), Leana Good-Simpson (treasurer), Ian Jacob (president), Michel Michaud, Elizabeth Parsons (secretary), Pamela Shaw, Clifford Tremblay
Board members absent: Jen Defilipp (excused), Wells Lyons (excused), Chip Martin (excused)
Others present: David Argitis (PPD), Rosanne Graef, Ethan Hipple (Park Dept.), Sandra Kynes, Betsy Morrell, Ellen Murphy, Susan Nelson, Lin Parsons, Ed Rae, Mike Roylos (Sidewalk Buttler), Steven Scharf, Spencer Thibodeau, Barb Wood, Tony Zeli
The meeting was called to order at 6:34 PM.
Minutes from April’s meeting were accepted as written.
The current total in WENA’s regular account is $899.34. The Swim Fund stands at $3,091.01. There was some discussion to clarify how funds in both accounts are used and to note how Swim Funds are raised.
Ethan Hipple, Portland Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Department
The new director of the Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Department introduced himself. He informed the group that the Parks Department had been a long-standing component of City work but was eliminated about eight years ago. The department has ow been reinstated and he recently arrived from New Hampshire where he had been directing that state’s conversation corps. Mr. Hipple noted that most Portlanders are within one mile of some green space. He, however, wants to see that all Portlanders have access and, ideally, closer than one mile.
Initiatives for this first year in the post include: reorganizing the Department; working for efficiency and coordinating efforts; bringing maintenance workers together; redesigning some playgrounds (specifically Deering Oaks, Riverton, and Hall); replace walkways in Lincoln Park; and bringing all the City’s parks into ADA compliance. No major work is presently scheduled for the West End.
He also noted that the Department will be working on reducing pesticides in parks and public spaces; trying to eliminate these chemicals completely from playgrounds and some other open spaces. He will also be studying organic products in cooperation with the University of Maine. In the near future, he hopes to create a parks app and intends to be to a champion for the parks, listening to what people want. He gave his contact information as: email@example.com.
A brief Question & Answer period followed his presentation and the group expressed their appreciation for his coming to the meeting.
Dave Argitis reported that Tim McNamara of the Parkside Neighborhood Association had put together a meeting on prostitution problems in the area. Dave attended the session and further noted that many resources are being aimed at human trafficking in the city.
On matters specific to the West End he observed that the Department has received complaints about transients camping now that warmer weather is here. The Police are trying to get ahead of this perennial matter. The Department is also working to resolve long-standing problems at 35-37 Tate Street. The property is abandoned and in foreclosure.
Some residents had reported concerns about people knocking on their doors in the later evenings to discuss energy matters. Dave noted that this was not a scam.
During the Question and Answer period it was reported that:
- people are camping in the bushes behind Victoria Mansion;
- a man in the woods near Valley Street is staring at people gardening; moreover the woods are very trashy.
- Dave is now back on bike patrol full time, going by Harborview Park and the Western Prom daily. He is especially monitoring the Western Prom cemetery for campers.
Board Member Announcements
- Ian Jacob had the following announcements:
- On May 19th, at 6:00 or 6:30 there will be an introductory meeting at Maine Irish Heritage for anyone interested in conducting a Jane’s Walk in the West End.
- The annual neighborhood spring clean-up would be held on Saturday, 14 May from 9 to 11 AM. Participants should gather at Harborview Park.
- Maine Department of Transportation will be doing a safety audit in reference to the State and High Streets two-way reconversion proposal. This will take place on May 19th.
- Mike Roylos brought the two sidewalk buttlers WENA has purchased and explained the working arrangements to the group. Everyone thanked Clifford Tremblay for designing the WENA advertisement that will be placed on the buttlers. Ian and Mike will decide on the locations for mounting the buttlers.
- Liz Parsons reminded the group about the plant swap scheduled for 4:00 to 6:00 PM before the June 8th meeting. She also thanked Susan Nelson for bringing refreshments to the meeting this month and last.
Member Reports and Announcements
- Rosanne Graef had the following announcements:
- The Book Nook constantly needs volunteers.
- There will be a West End-related photography show (not contest) in February of next year so people should be thinking about photos they could take between now and then. Photos must be identifiably in the West End and taken by someone living in the West End. No photos of people or pets will be allowed.
- The City will be installing hearing loops for people with hearing problems. This will go first in the council chambers, rooms 24, and 209 where many important meetings take place.
- Outdoor dining establishments have been reminded that they need to leave a four-foot wide space for clearance. Violations should be reported via See Click Fix.
- Susan Nelson noted that the Portland Food Council is a new organization being envisioned as an eight-member group. She gave an overview of the group’s vision and said they will present their plans to the City in June.
Spencer Thibodeau on Office of New Americans/Inclusion
Councilor Thibodeau presented an overview of the Mayor’s suggestion for this office. The Economic Development Committee has been overseeing initial conversations about this matter and has temporary halted the process while determining how to proceed. The needs and possibilities are larger than first envisioned and the committee wants to progress thoughtfully and realistically. There may be a charrette style meeting on the subject at some point and possibly a task force created as well. A Question and Answer/discussion followed his remarks.
Councilor Thibodeau also announced that cross walking painting near Reiche would proceed soon. Additionally, he will hold a constituent coffee on May 21st, location TBA.
At Steve Scharf’s request, Councilor Thibodeau expounded on the state of funding for the India Street health clinic as covered in the media.
The meeting adjourned at 8:08 PM.