Minutes of the West End Neighborhood Association (WENA) Meeting
Wednesday, 8 June 2016
Reiche Community Room
Board members present: Jennifer Defilipp (vice-president), Elizabeth Parsons (secretary), Pamela Shaw
Board members absent: Leana Good-Simpson (treasurer), Ian Jacob (president), Wells Lyons; Michel Michaud; Chip Martin; Clifford Tremblay
Others present: David Argitis (PPD), Rosanne Graef, Peter Hall, Donna Isaacs, Henry Isaacs, Christine McHale, Susan Nelson, Vinny O’Malley (Maine Irish Heritage Center), Lin Parsons, K. Purrington, David Shertz (PPD), Jeanne Swanton, Gwynne Williams, Tony Zeli
The meeting, chaired by Vice-President, Jen Defilipp, was called to order at 6:34 PM.
Minutes from May’s meeting were accepted as written.
In the treasurer’s absence, the secretary gave the report as follows: The current total in WENA’s regular account is $849.34. The Swim Fund stands at $3,112.46. There were no expenditures for the month.
Dave Argitis introduced David Shertz, the Area 5/West End officer on the overnight shift. Both officers engaged the group in a discussion of what happens in the West End during the night. Issues arising from that discussion include:
- There has been a recent meeting at Shalom House about prostitution in Portland. The highest levels of the Department are aware and much attention will be going to this matter of the summer in attempts to suppress it. This effort will not just target the women involved. David Argitis suggested that some moral/pastoral outreach (similar to what is taking place in the Old Port) might help.
- The recent shooting on Chadwick Street appears to have been a self-inflicted wound. No arrests have been made. The wounded person is known to PPD but is not expected to be an imminent threat to the neighborhood even after his long recovery.
- There is someone who is strangling and assaulting women during evening hours. The attacks are not fatal but the victims are losing consciousness. The PPD has identified some people who match the perpetrator’s description but the situation is ongoing.
- Harborview Park has been getting a lot of David Argitis’s attention. There is currently a lot of drug activity in the Park with an overdose happening there on Tuesday the 7th. Drug users, when caught, are banned from the Park.
- Concerns were raised about people camping on the Western Prom. Anyone seeing such campers should call the non-emergency PPD number.
- It was suggested that both officers sign up for Next Door West End. Liz Parsons will email them invitations.
Maine Irish Heritage Center (MIHC) Presentation
Vinny O’Malley, Interim Executive Director, gave an overview of the Center and of the history of St. Dominic’s Church. MIHC has owned the building since 2003 and he has been Interim since February of this year. Mr. O’Malley described the various types of activities that take place at the Center including their robust genealogy program. He also noted that MICH is in the midst of doing a master plan to ensure the building’s viability and availability for the next 100 years. He invited WENA members to consider joining MIHC, mentioned that WENA is welcome to use the facilities, and left information on the Center for further reading. It was agreed that he could return at a later date to update the group on MIHC’s master plan and show a short video they are producing in relation to the plan.
Board Member Announcements
Pamela Shaw reported on the recent Aging in Place informational meetings that the steering group has conducted. The survey introduced at those meetings is intended ultimately to go to anyone in the West End who is 45 years and older. The group’s next steps will be to:
- join with Village Networks, a nationwide organization doing location-specific activities helping people stay in their homes;
- try to understand what resources in Portland are available. There are resources available but they not well-coordinated and much published information appears out of date.
Anyone wanting to know more about this initiative should talk with Pamela, Rosanne Graef, or Michel Michaud.
Member Reports and Announcements
- Jen announced that there will be no July WENA meeting. In August, the annual picnic at Clark Street Park will take place in lieu of a formal meeting.
- Rosanne Graef spoke in reference to the recent drowning of a Deering High School student. She has contacted the chair of the YMCA and Paul Stevens to discuss forming a city-wide coalition to promote swimming lessons and make life jackets more readily available. The initial meeting will take place on Tuesday, 12 July at 8:30 AM in the Reiche community room. All are welcome to attend. Rosanne also asked the group to consider donating to the WENA swim fund.
- Peter Hall invited everyone to his annual summer solstice party. This year’s party will take place on Monday, 20 June at 44 Carleton Street beginning at 5:00 PM. Enter on the left side of the building and bring contribution to the potluck dinner.
- Gwynne Williams brought the group’s attention to WENA’s Clark Street Community Garden plot. She has been in touch with a local non-profit called the Locker Project that provides food to low income children in the Portland Public Schools. She suggested that food produced from the plot be donated to the Locker Project with distribution to Reiche students as a priority. She also suggested that the existence of WENA’s garden plot should be publicized more widely throughout the West End.
- Jeanne Swanton, as a PTO member, commented that she knows the Locker Project and the organization does good work.
- It was agreed that WENA’s board will take up this issue at its meeting on 15 June. Gwynne was invited to come speak briefly about the matter at that time.
- Donna Isaacs told the group of developments following the announced end of Learning Works’s English language program. A small group of volunteer teachers in that program have organized to keep something running through the summer. They have found a new partner in HopeActs which runs Hope House on Sherman Street. The new program is called HHELP (Hope House English Language Practice) and will begin this summer. HHELP needs additional volunteer teachers and tutors for the summer and especially for the fall. Contact Donna if interested.
- Jeanne Swanton asked about the schedule for painting crosswalks near Reiche. In the absence of Councilor Thibodeau,1 no additional information on exact dates was forthcoming.
- Tony Zeli said that the West End News is conducting a reader survey. He invited everyone to complete it at www.thewestendnews.com/survey.
- Lin Parsons commended Tony for covering the historic preservation project underway at WENA institutional member, St. Luke’s Episcopal Cathedral.
The meeting adjourned at 7:50 PM.
1 Councilor Thibodeau sent his regrets due to other council-related responsibilities. He did wish the group to know that the city council unanimously passed a change in parking on Carleton Street near the new Avesta project. This change will allow another 10-15 parking spaces from April to December. In the future, Councilor Thibodeau has asked that Rosanne Graef serve as his proxy for gathering and forwarding questions/concerns should he have to miss a meeting.