Minutes of the West End Neighborhood Association (WENA) Meeting
Wednesday, 12 Oct 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
Board members absent: Wells Lyons; Chip Martin; Clifford Tremblay (excused)
Others present: David Argitis (PPD), Allen Armstrong, Elissa Armstrong, Morgan Beede, Adam Belanger, Channing Capuchino, Sara Donnelly, Rosanne Graef, Cassie Graham, Rob Mattes (Portland Rec Dept); Christine McHale, Eben Peck, Steven Scharf, Liz Trice, Judy Witherell, Wynne Wirth, Tony Zeli (WEN)
The meeting was called to order at 6:35 PM and self-introductions followed.
Liz thanked Michel Michaud for serving as acting secretary in her absence the previous month. Minutes from September’s meeting were accepted as written.
The WENA swim fund has a $16.76 balance. Our regular account stands at $706.34 (though $300 of this total was donated for the Aging in Place initiative). There also remains $30 in petty cash. During September we paid the City $518 from the swim fund and now owe nothing until June of next year. Leana observed that the cost of swim lessons has risen and now expects that the total needed for 2017 will be approximately $3600.
David Argitis reported on the following:
- There is a man hanging out in the neighborhood who is a former Brackett St resident. He has a habit of trying to get into cars that are occupied. He refuses help of all kinds and hasn’t technically committed a crime. The PD continues trying to get him the help that he needs. Meanwhile, David encouraged everyone to lock car doors. The man is in his early 30s, about six feet tall with olive colored skin and a dark beard. He often wears sweat pants.
- Two instances of unlawful entries recently took place on the Western Prom. These were disconcerting but there was no exhibit of violence. The perpetrator appeared to be under the influence.
- David recently met with St. John/Valley Neighborhood Association representatives, staff members of Parks and Recreation, and Forestry regarding work on the Western Prom Park. The group exchanged ideas on beautifying that area to make it a better overall place. A suggestion has been made that Maine Medical Center consider adopting this park. David has also encouraged the St. John/Valley Neighborhood Association to work with WENA on this matter.
- Regarding ongoing issues of prostitution in the West End, the Crime Reduction Unit has a new leader with some different ideas on how to deal with this matter. David is hopeful that more progress can be made.
Board Member Announcements
- The construction on Deering Street should involve paving by end of the month. All facets of this project are slated to be finished by Christmas.
- Ian, Anne Pringle, Tim McNamara, Emma Holder, and Spencer Thibodeau will be having regular meetings with Maine Medical Center regarding the hospital’s planned expansion.
- A meeting on the plans for Americold to construct a building on West Commercial Street will take place on Thursday, 13 October at Reiche. Developers of the planned facility will be present at this meeting scheduled to run from 6:00 to 7:15 PM.
- Curbside leaf pickup will be conducted by the City from Monday, 24 October through Friday, 18 November.
- Reza Jalali, USM coordinator of multicultural student affairs, will discuss Maine’s new Americans as part of the Butterfield Memorial Series at Trinity Episcopal Church. The event will take place on 19 October beginning at 6:30 PM.
- Greater Portland Landmarks will offer a garden design presentation entitled “History in Your Own Backyard.” This event will take place on Tuesday, 25 October from 6:00 to 7:00 PM at Rines Auditorium, Portland Public Library.
- Pamela Shaw has been talking with Ethan Hipple (Parks and Rec) on ways to improve areas near Harborview Park. She made a brief presentation of some ideas and then circulated a sign-up sheet to obtain contact details of those interested in particular design elements.
Member Reports and Announcements
- Rosanne Graef noted the following Congress Square Park activities that are moving to the Reiche Community Room over the winter:
- Chase the Chill knitting and crocheting. Bring finished products during Book Nook hours. These will be distributed on Veteran’s Day.
- Colorists’ Club. Participants may bring water colors and colored pencils but no oil paints.
- Games and Fun. This is coordinated by the former chair of the USM physics department and features a variety of ancient and modern games.
- Adult Ed offerings. Check the Rec Department brochure for more information.
- Rosanne also gave the background and current status of Swim for Life. She will continue to work on fundraising for this effort and would like others to help. A small consortium has begun meeting to plan a more comprehensive approach to swim lessons for Portland school children. The hope is to make lessons available to all second-graders in the public schools. Rosanne will be going to other Neighborhood Associations and Parent-Teacher Organizations to build support for pushing the school board on this matter.
- Sarah Donnelly, a resident near Maine Med made a presentation on negative effects in the neighborhood of the Hospital’s no-smoking campus policies. She asked for help from WENA members. A lively discussion followed her remarks and she asked anyone interested to contact her at: Bramhallcleanair@gmail.com.
- Wynne Wirth noted that the annual Halloween Parade, that she coordinates, will be held Monday, 31 October regardless of the weather. She informed the group of adjustments to the route and asked for volunteers to help run the parade. Ian promised to put the route map on our website. The parade gathering begins at Reiche at 5:30 PM with start of 6:15 PM sharp. Wynne also collected names of those who wanted to volunteer.
- Liz Trice of Peloton Labs gave an update on improvements to Bramhall Square. The Square now has electricity and will have lights mounted in the trees over the winter. Liz has talked with Maine Med’s community liaison officer and with Portland Trails representatives about redesigning the space as well as possibly funding such a project. She will report on this matter when she has more information. Liz also mentioned two areas on Crescent Street (near MMC and apparently owned by the Hospital) that have potential for being community gardens. She is putting this possibility on a list of requests to the Hospital when negotiations about its expansion begin.
- Steven Scharf asked about the annual District 2 meeting. Portland.gov lists this as being scheduled for Tuesday, 15 November at 6:30 PM at Reiche.
- Steve also noted that the two new crosswalks on Brackett Street have involved a new process that should ensure they last longer. He requested that Ian, on behalf of WENA, thank the City for these installations and ask that the City power wash away the old crosswalk paint.
Portland Recreation Presentation
Rob Mattes, Director of Recreation, spoke with the group. He gave information about his background and stressed his interest in making things happen for everyone in the City. Rob described some internal changes in the Parks and Recreation Department and noted that the entire staff is now house at 212 Canco Road. The new telephone number is 207.808.5400. He anticipates that being all together in one building will improve communication. Recreational programs are his specialty and he mentioned wanting to start more programs in the City. As a first step, the Department will bring back festivals done in previous years, starting with a Haunted House at City Hall on 29 October. He further mentioned hopes for a winter fest at the golf course; a renewed New Year’s Portland; and even an Oktoberfest.
Rob invited anyone who has ideas and/or a willingness to help to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, he thanked WENA on, behalf of the Department, for our Swim For Life efforts. A brief discussion followed his presentation.
Portland Climate Action Team Presentation
Elissa and Allen Armstrong, on behalf of the Portland Climate Action Team (PCAT), introduced the group to a non-profit, Window Dressers.org, that works to reduce heat loss by building window inserts. They brought examples of window inserts and proposed that the PCAT work with WENA to do an insert build for the West End. This project would involve putting together the inserts in the fall of 2017 with delivery to dwellings by the next heating season. One of the big needs for this coming spring would be finding a location for building the inserts. The place would need to be large and available for five to six days. Ian said the Board would discuss this at our next meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 8:13 PM.