West End Neighborhood Association Year in Review – 2017

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Major topics covered at monthly meetings*
  • In-depth conversation with City Councilor, Spencer Thibodeau
  • Portland’s comprehensive planning process
  • In-depth conversation with Cumberland County DA, Jennifer Ackermann
  • City and School Department financial processes
  • Parks, gardens, and open spaces
  • Resources for renters
  • Reiche Community Center’s role in our neighborhood
  • Emergency preparedness for families and neighborhoods
  • Updating land use code zoning
Special events
  • Caroling around the neighborhood, Sunday prior to Christmas Day (approximately 15 participants).
  • AARP Roadwise Driver safety course in April (approximately 15 participants).
  • Annual August picnic held at Harborview Park in collaboration with 75 State Street featuring a performance by John and Scott Classic Rock Acoustic (approximately 65 in attendance).
  • At-large City Council Candidates’ Forum held at Reiche in October; also offering information on municipal ballot questions (approximately 100 in attendance).
  • Holiday food drive for Reiche school children conducted in December in collaboration with The Locker Project.
Book Nook
  • Honor-system lending library in collaboration with the Portland Public Library since 2012.
  • Open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 to 10:00 AM in the Reiche Community Room.
  • Facebook: 284 followers, a 37% increase from last year.
  • Web page: Over the past year, had unique 2,500 individuals visit our site with 5,764 page views. Above average for session durations (1:35 minutes) and bounce rates (70%).
  • Email: 454 contacts, a 13% increase from last year. 35% of people open our emails; higher than other non-profits (24%). And 1.6% of people click on a link within an email blast on average; has been higher lately (3.9% on average for last ten campaigns). Very low unsubscribe rate (1.6%).
Community classes and activities at Reiche
  • Knitting, crafts and games activities offered weekly from October-May in the Community Room and in coordination with Friends of Congress Square Park.
  • Video exercise practice Monday, Wednesday & Thursday mornings at 8:30 in the Community Room.
Parks and gardens
  • Clark Street Park: ongoing improvements to flower beds and apothecary garden installed in 2013-14.
  • Clark Street Community Garden plot: cultivation of vegetables for donation to Locker Project since 2016.
  • Harborview Park Edible Hillside:
    • First bed planted next to stairs with peaches, sweet cherry, cornelian cherries and companion/pollinator plants;
    • Bed on lower east end near Commercial planted with cherries, 2 paw-paws and companion plants;
    • Six American Chestnuts planted on hillside at west meadow by Commercial St.;
    • Two picnic tables installed;
    • Funding requests for lighting, stairs and stonework submitted to Portland Parks Commission for inclusion in Parks 10-year Capital Improvements Plan.
Swim for Life
  • Donated $4,128 to pay for swim lessons for Reiche second graders.
  • Donated $ 523 to pay for summer open swims for all Portland area school children using Reiche pool.
    • After almost a decade of offering swim support, WENA has had to stop paying for swimming lessons at Reiche due to rapidly increasing costs. We will, however, continue to raise funds and pay for open swims in the summer for neighborhood children at the Reiche pool.
  • Upon urging from WENA, Councilor Spencer Thibodeau introduced the resolution that the City of Portland declare the third week in May as Safe Boating Week. The resolution was passed unanimously. WENA members and others took part in Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day on May 19 and the World Record Life Jacket Wearing Day on May 20.
  • The Swim for Life program of WENA shifted gears to form the Swim for Life/Water Safety Coalition. In conjunction with representatives from Portland Rec, Southern Maine YMCA, Portland Boys & Girls Club and others, our ultimate goal is to have basic swimming and water safety skills taught to all Portland Public School students.
Traffic box painting
  • A partnership between WENA and Portland Trails to paint five traffic signal boxes along State, High, York, and Danforth Streets.
  • WENA received a mini-grant from Portland Trails to assist with this.
  • By incorporating way finding information, Portland Trail’s trail locations, and images from the West End, the project aim to discourage graffiti and add to the character of the West End.
WECAN-AIP (Aging in Place)
  • An initiative that grew out of some training offered to WENA following the Portland Library’s “Choose Civility” program ended.
  • Conducted a large survey (over 500 distributed) with help from AARP to find out what West Enders might want as they stay in their homes over the long-term.
  • As a result of the survey, more classes/activities are being offered at Reiche (see above). There is also a monthly movie night followed by discussion and an occasional speaker’s series.
  • Joined with Portland Area Villages (www.portlandareavillages.org) as a way of offering hands-on services that residents might need.
Windowdressers build
  • Co-sponsored with Portland Climate Action Team and held at Maine Irish Heritage Center.
  • Participated in by about 21 volunteers.
  • Built 500 windows for 46 homes and three non-profits, saving an estimated 31 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

*Community policing updates and discussions are a regular monthly feature.