Minutes of the West End Neighborhood Association (WENA) Meeting
Wednesday, 9 March 2016
Reiche Community Room
Board members absent: Wells Lyons (excused), Clifford Tremblay (excused)
Others present: Jenny Anastasoff, Zack Borowitz, Chaning Capuchino, Barbara DeSerres, Kip DeSerres, Rosanne Graef, Jon Hinck, Suzanne Hunt, Christine McHale, Susan Nelson, Stewart “Tuck” O’Brien, Penny Rich, Michael Roylos, Steven Scharf, Spencer Thibodeau, Gwynne Williams, Barb Wood, Tony Zeli
The meeting was called to order at 6:33 PM.
Minutes from February’s meeting were accepted as presented.
The current total in WENA’s regular account is $1,019.09. The Swim Fund stands at $3,091.01.
Sarah Colton, PPD liaison officer, could not attend. Neither could Dave Argitis. So there was no formal report. Ian invited everyone to pass along concerns to him that he could then forward to the police department.
- A question arose concerning a drug raid on Salem Street that had been reported in the PPH.
- Thanks were expressed for the PPD’s rapid response to a young child found wandering alone on Brackett Street.
West End Development Overview
Tuck O’Brien, the City’s new Planning Director, came to introduce himself and to talk about the City’s current comprehensive planning process. The West End was well represented in the planning survey, as documented by a high percentage rate of responses. Highlights gleaned from the survey include:
- People were generally happy with City services.
- There is fairly universal support for maintaining a working waterfront.
- 91.5% of respondents said climate change and sea level rise are issues for the City.
- Less than ½ of the respondents think that the public transit system is adequate.
- There is a clear need for more and better broadband coverage.
- There is lots of concern about adequate housing.
The full response report will be posted on the City’s website (http://www.portlandmaine.gov/1579/Comprehensive-Plan-2015).
Mr. O’Brien also observed that City officials are learning things they can do better when administering the survey next time. He mentioned reaching out to people who haven’t been in Portland very long and to people who don’t use computers very much. Also, there will be an open house/meeting in the spring to introduce some more sophisticated web tools. These are intended to help residents stay informed of the many development projects going on in the City.
Some discussion followed his remarks. In this discussion there was considerable emphasis on the need for more pedestrian lighting.
Mike Roylos, former owner of Spartan Grill restaurant and originator of the Sidewalk Buttler program (http://www.sidewalkbuttler.com/the-solution/), gave an update on this effort. There are about 100 buttlers currently installed around the City. These collected over 400,000 cigarette butts during the past year. Mr. Roylos will be installing about 30 buttlers at Maine Medical Center soon. Each buttler costs $89 and he installs them himself. The program also has an arrangement for emptying the buttlers and Mr. Roylos stated that some of the ideas he has for expanding the effort would help create jobs.
Ian thanked Mr. Roylos and said that the WENA board would discuss possibly purchasing a buttler or two when they next meet.
Councilor Thibodeau announcements
District 2 councilor, Spencer Thibodeau mentioned the following:
- He will announce the buttlers program at the next City Council meeting.
- The City is looking at some parking possibilities on Carleton Street to help alleviate the anticipated crunch as construction on a new building begins there.
- He is working with Jon Hinck on street lighting matters. He reminded the group that lighting is very expensive. For example, the single flashing light to be installed at a crossing outside of Reiche will be about $5,000.
- Cross-walk painting especially near Reiche School will be done with better products this spring.
- Bramhall Square has now been wired for electricity so lighting can be installed there in the future.
Councilor Hinck announcements
At-large councilor, Jon Hinck mentioned the following:
- The Energy and Sustainability Committee, which he chairs, will be considering South Portland’s pesticide ban ordinance as a possible model for a Portland city ordinance. He encouraged the group’s participation in the public aspects of this process.
- Similarly, Portland’s housing cost situation needs public participation.
- A solar project collaboration with South Portland is also under consideration.
Mr. Hinck then made a personal announcement about his intention to run for the State Senate seat being vacated by Justin Alfond whose term is expiring. Mr. Hinck said he would be running under the Maine Clean Elections law.
Member reports and announcements
- Barb Wood asked what’s happening with the Spring Street renovation process?
- Rosanne Graef called the group’s attention to an organization known as Jane’sWalk.org that is a global community building project. The principle activity takes place on the first weekend in May as people take others in the neighborhood for a walk around their area. Rosanne offered to make a more formal presentation about this at a future meeting.
- Rosanne also noted that School Board representatives will be holding a meeting for people who do not have children in the school system to come talk about the school budgeting process. The meeting will take place on March 12th.
- Steven Scharf announced that the City Council will soon approve milling and paving of Danforth Street from High to York Streets. He noted that, although this area is not technically in the West End, the project affects the West End.
- Steve also mentioned that the new traffic light installed at the Beach and W. Commercial Streets intersection doesn’t work properly. He suggested that WENA members send emails to the City and to the State departments in charge of such matters, telling them that the light needs to be fixed.
The meeting adjourned at 8:06 PM.