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August 2017 -- Vol. 111, No. 12

Memories of THE BEE's first 100 years!
In 2006, THE BEE celebrated its centennial of serving Southeast Portland!  A special four-page retrospective of Inner Southeast Portland's century, written by Eileen Fitzsimons, and drawn from the pages of THE BEE over the previous 100 years, appeared in our September, 2006, issue.
Click here to read this special retrospective!


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Eastmoreland Historic District, stalled

Historic District stalled – at least until August 9 

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

The story surrounding whether or not a large portion of the Eastmoreland neighborhood will be designated a National Historic District continues to unfold – and little more will be known until at least August 9.

That’s what the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) Historian Ian Johnson recently told THE BEE.

On July 5, SHPO received notice from the National Park Service stating that the agency would return the nomination document for the proposed Eastmoreland Historic District for “procedural errors” related to the Oregon SHPO's inability to provide a total count of owners or objections used to determine owner consent as required by federal rules.

“We’re currently under a court-ordered ‘stay’, so currently, no actions are being taken,” Johnson said.

The “stay” to which Johnson referred, which temporarily stops a judicial proceeding through the order of a court, is in connection with a legal action filed by Eastmoreland resident Tom Brown, through his attorneys, in Marion County Circuit Court to halt the Historic District nomination.

When the Circuit Court judge didn’t issue a stay, or permanent injunction, Brown’s attorneys appealed the case to the Oregon State Court of Appeals (case A165012), which is now considering the matter.

“State Parks asked for an extension for at least three weeks in this [legal] appeal; it was granted on July 17, and their response is due no later than August 9,” Johnson said.

During this time, the state office is to organize all of the original Historic District application materials, including all communications, to be presented to the court. “This is a pretty extensive set of records,” commented Johnson.

This case has broader implications, other than just to the Eastmoreland Historic District nomination, said Johnson, including property ownership issues that have yet to be resolved at the state level: “Resolving some of the issues in the Eastmoreland application will give us a more informed way to help other neighborhoods who may pursue designating their neighborhood an Historic District in the future.”

“From my understanding – and I’m not an attorney – the issue that the SHPO needs to determine is how many actual property owners there are in the proposed historic district,” said Derek Blum, co-founder of HEART (Historic Eastmoreland Achieving Results Together), a pro-district organization.

Some of the properties’ deeds in the proposed district list multiple names, including those who are deceased; others indicate legal partnerships, individuals, trusts – a wide range of ownership situations.

“Trying to figure out who the owners actually are is part of the additional ownership controversy, including objectors to the district – and whether or not deceased individuals are permitted to ‘object’ to the designation,” Blum told THE BEE.

Federal roles are unclear, Johnson conceded, about whether a surviving owner can cast a vote a vote objecting to an Historic District on behalf of the deceased.

Patrick Cummings, a neighbor active with the “Keep Eastmoreland Free”, which is an organization opposing the Historic District, commented, “The reason it is stalled is that it is a flawed process, and has been since the beginning. By June 30, when the National Parks Service closed the process, Historic District opponents presented about 1,040 notarized objections to the SHPO; more than the 1,027 objections needed to immediately prevent national ‘Historic’ designation. 

“My hope is that the neighborhood leaders will acknowledge what a flawed process this is, and shut it down,” Cummings said.

HEART’s Blum countered, “We believe that the opponents of the Historic District failed to obtain a majority; but our next step is really to wait and see what’s going to happen. We’re willing to provide additional information to SHPO and the National Parks Service, and if we can help them we will do that, based on everything that’s been submitted to date.”

Tom Brown declined to comment, and referred us to his attorney, Nathan Morales of the Harrang Long Gary Rudnick law firm.

“We are very pleased that the Court of Appeals issued the stay. We think that this is an important matter that they need to consider,” Morales told THE BEE. “I hope that the court requires the state to provide us with the process that it has thus far refused to give us.”

Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association President Rod Merrick told THE BEE, “I don’t want to speculate on what happens if the appeal isn’t dismissed.

“There’s a certain amount of frustration I hear, that the opponents are using the legal system in a way that they hope will delay the process. I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the future of the Historic District; I await the verdict of the court.”



McLoughlin Boulevard, repair and upgrade, ODOT
Having been diverted from McLoughlin Boulevard, traffic stacks up, for blocks, along northbound S.E. Milwaukie Avenue. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

McLoughlin road repair project snarls local streets

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

The “OR 99E Paving Project: S.E. Harold Street to S.E. Harrison Street” – rebuilding S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard (State Highway 99-E) “from the foundation up” – will no doubt ultimately benefit motorists who frequently use this 2.6 mile stretch of highway.

And, the salmon finding their way up Crystal Springs Creek are certain to appreciate the new wide box culvert that will replace the old rotting wood piles and crossbeams over the previous culvert under the highway, just east of Westmoreland's Union Manor.

However, just as some residents who went to the Open Houses held by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) representatives had been fearing, traffic displaced by the first of four weekend-long northbound lane closures, from S.E. Tacoma Street northward into Sellwood and Westmorland streets, was atrocious.

During the first weekend closure, for as far as the eye (and the telephoto lens) could see, northbound traffic was backed up along S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, and on S.E. 17th as well, since only a handful of vehicles got through each green light at both intersections of Bybee Boulevard in the Westmoreland business district.

Some vehicles on Milwaukie cut over to 17th Avenue, only to encounter the same situation, and vice versa; others, perhaps unfamiliar with the neighborhood, turned west – only to discover that many streets, including S.E. 13th Avenue, don’t continue northward.

“Where does ODOT expect us to drive?” seethed Maryanne Binkerton, out her car window to THE BEE, while the seemingly-never-ending line of vehicles inched forward on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue. “Once you’re here, there’s just nowhere to go!”

Another route had been officially suggested, however. According to information distributed, and signs posted by ODOT, the preferred northbound detour “will take northbound travelers east on OR Highway 224 to Interstate 205” – but, with no suggestion about how drivers might then return to northbound McLoughlin Boulevard. The problem recurred during the second full-weekend closure of northbound McLoughlin, July 22-23.

Asked why this “miles out of the way” route was offered, ODOT Region 1 spokesman Don Hamilton explained, “Because we’re working on State highways, we are reluctant to have people travel on streets other than those that are state-owned.”

About how to get back to McLoughlin Boulevard, Hamilton suggested, “Drivers may come west from Interstate 205 via S.E. Powell Boulevard (State Highway 26), or perhaps use another route.” But no signage was posted about that for motorists on northbound I-205.

ODOT contractors begin to dismantle the rickety Crystal Springs Bridge, and will replace it with a new box culvert under S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Full closures continue in August
As ODOT contractors continue to rebuild the highway’s base and shoulders in some sections, then grind, repave, and restripe the highway, the northbound lanes of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard will twice more be closed from 10 p.m. Friday night to 5 a.m. Monday morning:

  • Friday, August 4, to Monday, August 7
  • Friday, August 18, to Monday, August 21

At no time during the project is it planned that all the southbound lanes will be closed, however.

In addition to the four weekend full-northbound closures, there will be several weekends of single lane closures in both directions – with traffic shifted into various configurations from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, over the weekend of August 11 through 14.

Bicycle riders should know the both shoulders of McLoughlin Boulevard are closed throughout construction, and a fully-signed bike detour is in place along S.E. 17th Avenue. And transit users should be aware that the #19 TriMet bus stop on S.E. 23rd Avenue at Westmoreland’s Union Manor WILL remain open, although there will be temporary route changes of that bus to accommodate the construction.



Boys and Girls Club, Westmoreland, Portland, Oregon, demolition
Only two days after the demolition began, the Fred G. Meyer Memorial Boys & Girls Club gymnasium in Westmoreland was reduced to splinters and dust. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Asbestos found in Westmoreland Boys & Girls Club demolition

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Just before the July 4th holiday weekend, demolition crews moved in and started tearing down the Meyer Memorial Boys & Girls Club in Westmoreland, to make way for a full-block apartment structure.

The newest part of the club complex, the gymnasium, was the first section to be dismantled – taken apart in mere hours on June 30 by an excavator with a grip claw, which ripped apart the walls, and removed the beams.

Throughout the demolition process, neighbors wondered if steps were being taken to protect the environment from lead paint and asbestos debris.

As the following week proceeded, the wrecking crew chewed through the building – from where the gym once stood, working eastward toward S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, mowing down the next newest section of the building.

Asbestos, hazard, Boys and Girls Club, Westmoreland, Portland, Oregon, demolition
This warning tape makes it clear why the last section of the former Fred G. Meyer Memorial Boys & Girls Club was still standing, tented with plastic sheeting. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

On July 14, resident Gail Hoffnagle, currently Vice President of neighborhood association SMILE, noticed that demolition workers had constructed a containment area, completely encasing the still-standing fragment of the old Safeway Store that had previously occupied the site in plastic sheeting – with “Asbestos Danger” tape clearly stuck to the side.

“I wonder how much asbestos was released before they tested or discovered it?” mused Hoffnagle.

In an effort to discover the answer, THE BEE called Portland representatives of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to learn when an “Asbestos Removal Permit” was issued, and any other pertinent facts.

We were directed to file an official DEQ Public Records Request.

The response we received when we did so: “In accordance with ORS 192.440(2), this is to acknowledge that your request for DEQ records has been received. We will contact you regarding this request as soon as possible.”

THE BEE will update this story as more information is available.

After the demolition is complete, construction will begin on a four-story, 232 unit apartment building, being developed by “NBP Capital”.



OMSI, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Pompeii
In the courtyard, guests look at a First Century A.D. bronze, recovered from the House of the Citharist in Pompeii. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Ancient Pompeii comes to life again at OMSI

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

The new featured exhibition at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) on the east bank of the Willamette River highlights Pompeii, an ancient Roman city near modern Naples, in Italy.

Opening in late June, “Pompeii: The Exhibition” has been giving visitors the opportunity to explore scenes from the city as it was in 79 A.D., experience the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in a unique 4D theater, and then see the aftermath – exquisitely preserved in lava for more than 1,700 years.

The exhibition tour begins with a brief, dramatic introductory video to orient guests to the city of Pompeii and the nearby volcano. Visitors then find themselves the atrium of a Roman villa, from which they begin a stroll through a realistic reproduction of the ancient city.

Pompeii, volcanic ash, body casts, OMSI, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Body casts of some of the Pompeii residents who were buried in volcanic ash make a powerful conclusion to the exhibition. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

On the walking tour, guests visit a market, a temple, theater, and baths, highlighted by about 200 authentic artifacts – including mosaics and frescoes, gladiator helmets, armor and weapons, a ship’s anchor, lamps, jugs, cups, plates, pots and pans and other household objects and furniture, jewelry, medical instruments, and tools.

After a realistic depiction of the volcano’s eruption, visitors walk through an exhibit of body casts of human forms – forever frozen in time in hardened volcanic ash.

“This exhibition advances the mission of OMSI, by offering our guests the opportunity to study and understand history through the scientific lens of archaeology and volcanology,” explained the organization’s President, Nancy Stueber, at the exhibit’s opening.

“And, volcanoes are a part of our life here in the Pacific Northwest,” Stueber reflected, “so this exhibition allows our visitors to explore earth and volcano science, both regionally and worldwide.”

There is an additional fee, above the general museum admission, to tour “Pompeii: The Exhibition”, on display through October 22.

For more information, go online – https://www.omsi.edu. OMSI is located at 1945 S.E. Water Avenue, just north of the Ross Island Bridge and under the east end of the Marquam Bridge.



Popeye's, Fred Meyer, crash, 82nd, weird
An employee at the Popeye’s restaurant in the Foster-Powell neighborhood looks at the Olds, smashed into the building – commenting on how closely it came to wrecking her own jeep, parked nearby. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Weird wreck sends car into chicken restaurant on 82nd

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A two-vehicle collision on S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses – reported at 8:29 a.m., on July 12 – ended up with a late-model Oldsmobile Intrigue planted, nose deep, into the stucco siding of the “Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen” at 8111 S.E. Foster Road.

“I heard this terrible crash, and a ‘thud’ that shook the whole building – I was afraid it would come down,” remarked the worker who’d been opening up the store for the day. “Look how close the car came to hitting my Jeep.”

Simultaneously, police cars and fire engines pulled up; the firefighters were concerned that the crash could have broken natural gas lines into the building. However, that fire crew, from PF&R Lents Station 11, found nothing amiss, and left after investigating the crash.

An East Precinct officer said, based on witness statements, that the crash had actually started on southbound S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, parallel with the Fred Meyer shopping center, when two vehicles had collided.

Officers learned that the driver of the Oldsmobile was traveling in the center southbound, lane – and impulsively had made an abrupt, illegal right hand turn, across the lanes, attempting to dash into the shopping center parking lot. But there was another vehicle in the right lane.

The red Olds turned towards a black Range Rover, and collided with it, with damage to the driver’s side of the SUV – which left bits of trim, plastic light covers, and other debris in the street.

The story really turns strange at this point, as the victim of the crash suddenly became the wanted party – by failing to stop.

Although the SUV was badly damaged in the crash, the driver kept on going. Now the police are looking for him or her, on a charge of – at least – “failure to perform duties of a driver”. They could charge him or her with more, when they find out just why the Ranger Rover driver was so reluctant to stop.

As the driver of the SUV sped off southbound, the Olds veered west into the Fred Meyer parking lot, curved toward the south, popped over a curb, and smashed right into the Popeye’s building.

That driver was taken to a hospital with injuries which the officers first described as serious, but were later downgraded to “non-life threatening”, according to officials.

While in the hospital, the driver who smashed into the fried chicken store was later charged with “making an unlawful turn”, and “careless driving resulting in an accident”. At last report, the police were still looking for the other driver.



Oaks Bottom, brush, fire, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
NO, IT’S NOT A BLACK BASEBALL DIAMOND. In the photo above, taken in the early evening of Saturday, July 8, looking down from the curve where Sellwood Boulevard turns into S.E. 7th Avenue at Sellwood Park’s parking lot, the rounded black area near the cliff is burned grass. A wildfire was reported to 9-1-1 there at 6:59 p.m., and eleven fire units responded, led by Westmoreland’s Engine 20, and swiftly put out the blaze – from equipment stationed at Oaks Park, and at this point on the road above. There were no injuries, and no official cause has been reported, but witnesses in the park told THE BEE that they had seen kids playing in that general area at the time. Reminder: Grass is tinder dry this time of year. (Photo by Eric Norberg)


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