THE "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR" ARE BELOW THE EDITORIAL

From The Editor

Bus cuts are coming to north Westmoreland

As reported from time to time over a number of recent months, with the MAX light rail line between Milwaukie and downtown Portland opening in a year, TriMet last year dropped the bombshell that it was considering doing away with Buses 31, 32, and 33 on S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard past Westmoreland with service to downtown.

That came as an unpleasant surprise to those living in north Westmoreland, because TriMet had already made it clear it had no plans to construct a light rail “Harold Street Station” in the forseeable future, despite its presence with an asterisk on their official route map of the MAX Orange Line.

We continue to hold hope this station will eventually be built on the east side of McLoughlin Boulevard just south of Harold, because it would provide access to the light rail line not only for north Westmoreland, but direct access for Reed College students and the Reed neighborhood – after construction of a foot and bicycle bridge over McLoughlin and the Union Pacific tracks on the Reedway alignment. That would fill the largest gap between stations on this entire line within Multnomah County.

Until that station is built, Buses 31, 32, and 33 are what provides direct access to downtown for north Westmoreland commuters, those serving jury duty, and PSU students, among others. Of course there remain Buses 19 and 70, and we are promised those are not endangered – but Bus 70 had a route change that no longer takes it to the Rose Quarter transit center for a MAX connection downtown, leaving only Bus 19 as a rather slow route to the city center. Bus 17 down Holgate will also still go downtown, switching from the Ross Island Bridge to the new Tilicum Transit Bridge to speed the ride. 

However, as noted, last year TriMet began hinting that Buses 31, 32, and 33 might run north on McLoughlin only as far as the new light rail transit center south of Milwaukie, in the expectation that those continuing downtown would do it on the train. For Milwaukie, Sellwood, Ardenwald, and perhaps south Westmoreland and Eastmoreland, that may well be true

For north Westmoreland, it won’t be. Commuters in north Westmoreland have been catching these three buses, northbound and southbound at S.E. 17th as well as at Harold Street on McLoughlin, for decades – and with the newly-upgraded traffic light at Harold and McLoughlin, which includes a realigned pedestrian crosswalk that is safer to use, those buses continue to provide a vital service.

When we reported the threat to those three buses last year, we were assured that no decision had been made. Then, not long ago, a TriMet official announced in Oregon City that these three buses definitely would stop in Milwaukie and proceed no further north. But, when this was reported here, TriMet said that of course they did intend to get public input before such a decision is made. Now, they have reaffirmed the discontinuation plan in duly seeking that public input. 

With fairly short notice, in July, TriMet held four public Open Houses on the subject – only two of them in Multnomah County, and one of those two being downtown – and lo and behold, by the time you get this issue of THE BEE, they are all past. If you missed them, though, you evidently have one last chance to make your comment – online.  Go to: http://www.trimet.org/buschanges – and make your comment no later than AUGUST 8th. That’s the cutoff date.

We would be remiss if we didn’t point out that there is some good news for Sellwood in the latest plans announced by TriMet for the bus changes: The bus company has evidently heard the requests from that part of the neighborhood for restoration of bus service downtown across the new Sellwood Bridge when it is opened next year – and so, Bus 99, the “McLoughlin Express”, will continue to run to downtown Portland, but will now leave McLoughlin at Tacoma Street, stopping at a point or two on Tacoma, then crossing the new Sellwood Bridge and heading north on Macadam into downtown – and it will return the same way.

It will only do this at commute times, though – 5:30 to 8:45 am, and 3 till 7 pm, on weekdays only (presumably excluding holidays). But that is much better than the previously announced plans for no bus service downtown across the new Sellwood Bridge. 

However, for northern Westmoreland, it is ironic indeed that when the MAX service that the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood has doggedly advocated for and supported for so long finally becomes a reality in a little over a year, the northern end of the neighborhood will not only have no direct access to that rail line, but it will also lose 60% of the bus service it has always had. Ouch.

We continue to hope that north Westmoreland will someday get its Harold Street Station. But the lack of that station will become severe if Buses 31, 32, and 33 are discontinued, as it now appears they inevitably will be.

TriMet has given several hard-to-believe excuses for not building the station:

  • The one-minute delay in the trip downtown from Milwaukie caused by a stop at that station would substantially reduce the incentive for Clackamas County commuters to take the train instead of to drive into town on McLoughlin.
  • Studies show that few riders would get on or off at a Harold Street Station.
  • People will just not walk even the distance from Milwaukie Avenue down to McLoughlin at Harold Street to catch the train.
  • BUT – they blithely suggest – people in north Westmoreland can easily walk to the Bybee Bridge Station, or to the station at Holgate and 17th, to catch the train!

Anyone who has driven north on McLoughlin in the morning to get downtown will not believe the first reason; the molasses-slow commute would not become any more appealing if the light rail connection downtown is one minute shorter, or would it be avoided if it is one minute longer. Nobody on the train would notice that one minute difference, as they gaze out the window at all the traffic creeping along McLoughlin Boulevard.


Commuting times via automobile are getting longer every year; and so, in the future, more and more people will want to ride the train. Particularly so, if a foot/bike bridge over the railroad tracks is built, as it should be. With that access, Westmoreland ridership would be augmented by Reed College student ridership, and commuter ridership from the Reed neighborhood – which neighborhood (along with SMILE) is on record as requesting the Harold Street Station be built.

By the way, as it happens, that recommended walk from north Westmoreland to Bybee or to Holgate is far longer than would be the stroll down to the Harold Street Station which TriMet seems to think people would just not make!

So, what gives? Unquestionably the real reason for no Harold Street Station is the cost of building that bicycle and foot bridge to connect the two ends of Reedway across McLoughlin and the Union Pacific tracks – for which TriMet has no budget, in this project.

This bridge nonetheless needs to be built, light rail or no light rail, to allow Reed students and Reed neighborhood residents access to Westmoreland and to the Springwater Trail via the Milwaukie Avenue trailhead just south of McLoughlin – as well as to provide Westmoreland residents easy access on foot to Reed College cultural events, the Rhododendron Gardens, and the Reed and Woodstock neighborhoods.

When that bridge is eventually built, perhaps TriMet might then finally be willing to consider building a Harold Street Station that is actually part of its official plan.

Now all that remains is for us all to figure out some way to get that bike and foot bridge built. Donations, anyone?


Letters to the Editor
Sellwood Pool, Pool House Roof
Ms. Armstrong’s photo of the condition of the Sellwood Pool House’s roof.

“Sellwood Pool House roof is a disgrace”

Editor,

This letter has been a long time coming. I talked to city/park employees “in charge” in some form or another last year – But, here we are.

This is regards the roof of the Sellwood Pool House [in Sellwood Park]. Is it only me who is distressed by its condition? It is basically rotten – rotting kindling – slowly but surely falling off. (Though I hear that in a recent hail storm it was falling off rather quickly). You could see daylight through a hole in the lobby last summer and it went through all the winter rains. (See photo taken last August.)

This has not happened overnight. It did not look good when we moved here from Seattle seven years ago – but NOTHING happens. I have seen no evidence of maintenance, year after year. (Though ignoring maintenance appears to be modus operandi in Portland [esp. Southeast]).

This building is, to my mind, an undisputed treasure of PP&R, and it is so far beyond embarrassing – it is shameful – that it has come to this point. Granted, Portland seems to have city/school budget woes – but, is there no corporate Schnitzer or Nike or Columbia to step up to the plate for basic infrastructure? (Rather than art or general “beautification” onto which they can put their name.)                                

SuSan Armstrong
S.E. 29th Avenue


EDITOR’S NOTE: Ms. Armstrong reports she has also sent this letter to City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. The nearby smaller building just northwest of the Pool House has a roof in similar condition. According to a press release we received on July 3, the Pool House roof would be repaired if the proposed replacement bond measure for Portland Parks passes; it appears that perhaps the other building in the park needing a new roof would also be included.

 

Something to make certain of

Editor,

One simple question could save your child’s life: “Is there an unlocked gun where your child plays?” If you feel awkward about asking, consider this:

  • One-third of homes with children have guns; many are left unlocked and/or loaded. (Johnson R, et al. AJPM.2004;27(2):173-182).
  • Nine children and teens are shot each day in gun accidents (www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html, cited 2014 Mar 20).
  • Eighty percent of unintentional firearm deaths of children under 15 occur in a home. (www.cdc.gov/violencePrevention/NVDRS/index.html)

Hiding guns is not enough. Talking to your kids about gun safety is not enough. Children are curious; if they find a gun, they will play with it. That’s why all guns should be stored unloaded and locked, ideally in a gun safe, with ammunition locked separately. 

Before you send your child to an unfamiliar home, just ask. If you have doubts about a home’s safety, invite the kids to your home or a park. You may feel nervous about asking, but that’s a small price to pay for your child’s safety.

Joanne Skirving
S.E. Cooper Street, Woodstock


The sign stays up

Editor,

I found the letter from Chuck Martin [July BEE, in response to a letter from Melissa Mattern in the June issue] interesting, considering he says he is a politician concerned about democracy.

Mr. Martin seems to think that his rights as a politician, or political volunteer, trump the rights of a homeowner to their privacy and will “isolate yourself from those who seek to represent you”. I thoroughly disagree.

There are myriad reasons for a “no solicitors” sign, none of which are the business of Mr. Martin. Perhaps there is a new baby in the house; or the occupant works odd hours and is sleeping; they might be elderly and either can't get to the door or their family has put it there for their own piece [sic] of mind against solicitors who might prey on them; or, maybe, the home owner just doesn’t want to be bothered. Whatever the reason, it is there and should be honored by everyone.

Anyone who wants to be involved in the political process has the opportunity to do so. Having a “no solicitors” sign on your door does not change that.

Catherine Watts

Woodstock 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Although Mr. Martin has apparently run for political office, he has not been a politician within the memory of THE BEE. He has been active in neighborhood affairs in Inner Southeast, and is deeply involved in a Woodstock church. He does not have a “no solicitors” sign on his house.

 

BEE history writers offer walking tour

Editor,

Since the last similar tour we led filled up fast, I want to alert BEE readers that the two BEE history writers – also two of our neighborhood historians – Dana Beck and Eileen Fitzsimons will lead a walking tour of Westmoreland on Sunday, September 14, beginning at 1:30 pm. The event benefits the Bosco Milligan Foundation, a nonprofit historic preservation organization located at the Architectural Heritage Center on S.E. Grand Avenue north of the Ross Island Bridge. The charge for the walking tour is $12.00 for BMF members, and $20.00 for the general public. Participants should allow two hours for the walk. To register, or find out more, go to the AHC website: http://www.VisitAHC.org. Sign up fast if you want to come along, as there are only 32 spaces in this walking tour!

Eileen Fitzsimons

via e-mail


Casting call

Editor,

I am writing THE BEE to spread the word about our casting call. We are casting locally in Portland, and auditioning talent in the beginning of August. Here is the casting posting: Seeking male and female improv actors of all ages and ethnicities who have restaurant experience, or have been fired from a restaurant (i.e server, manager, chef, bartender, busboy, etc.). It’s for an upcoming reality show on a major cable network. Pay is $200 if booked. Roles Needed: Chefs/Cooks, Restaurant Managers, Hostesses, Busboys, Bartenders, Waiters/Waitresses. Please respond with your contact information, city you live in (it really should be Portland!), a picture, and any relevant restaurant experience to: castingempire@gmail.com.

Michelle Herrera
Casting Producer
via e-mail


A bit awkward

Editor,


I am a student at Sellwood Middle School (going into 8th grade) and I saw the article [July BEE] on new school principals in the area at Grout Elementary and Sellwood Middle. I got some information on the new principals [from the article], but one thing bugged me: The Grout Elementary School’s new principal’s name is spelled three different ways. I can assume her last name is Tabshy, but it is also spelled “Tabshay” and “Tashby”. Maybe the author had a rough night – but I just wanted to tell you about the inaccuracies, especially since it was on the front cover!

Sincerely (and thanks for providing a great community newspaper),

Cleo Whelan

PS – I hope I didn’t spell anything wrong. That would be akward.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We checked, and we have it from Rita Leonard that the correct spelling is indeed Tabshy. As for the other two spellings, we are at a loss to explain it. Good catch! We enjoyed the joke in your PS, too. We welcome Ms. Tabshy to Inner Southeast and wish her much success. And we regret our error.


Concerns about tobacco education

Editor,


As a former nursing assistant and a current student of public health, I am saddened by the toll tobacco products take on Oregonians. Whether from smoking cigarettes and cigars, smokeless tobacco products, or secondhand smoke, 7,000 Oregonians are dying from tobacco each year. In Multnomah County alone, just over 23,000 people are suffering from an illness caused by tobacco. Tobacco related death is the number one preventable cause of death in Oregon, and not doing enough to combat this issue is unacceptable.

While there are many courses of action that if taken could significantly decrease the number of deaths directly related to tobacco, perhaps the most important is to ensure that dollars allocated to Oregon through the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement are actually applied to Tobacco Prevention and Education programs, as originally intended. I strongly urge our legislators to protect the health of Oregonians by demanding the necessary funding for effective prevention and cessation programs. 

Brittany Badicke
S.E. Portland
via e-mail




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All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.


 


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