Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bertha wall closure, and an opening on undergrounding

Bill Long, maintenance supervisor at the Portland Department of Transportation, says his crews fixed the Bertha Court retaining wall within two or three days after my notifying him of blocks' falling onto the sidewalk. My own monitoring doesn't suggest the response was that fast, but it was fast, and I thanked him yesterday for the quick work.

The retaining wall is held together not by mortar, but gravity. He invited us to call again if falling blocks become a problem.

Now it's on to getting the City to back off planting utility poles in the Bertha Court sidewalk and to start undergrounding utilities around the new Watershed housing project.

Yesterday within hours, City Commissioner Sam Adams responded to SWNI President Glenn Bridger's complaint about new poles planted in the pedestrian right-of-way. Adams wants to know more about efforts to underground utilities in Hillsdale.

For photographic evidence of the wire/pole blight in the Town Center, see page 11 of today's InPortland section of The Oregonian. Top photo.


Anonymous Pam VanderVeer said...

When the Bertha retaining wall and sidewalk were first built, several different kinds of landscaping plants were planted all along the terrace between the upper and lower retaining walls. This past summer, the strip became overrun with weeds. The problem is that it runs along the base of Rieke Hill, so the weeds, especially the grass, from the hill grow down into the plants, dropping seeds, etc. This is the first year that it really became a problem. The section that lies below the black chainlink fence (about 1/2 the length) wasn't as bad, because the fence shields it somewhat. But the rest of it got so bad this past year that about 1/3rd of the plants died, partially due to being overrun by the weeds & grasses. The city hasn't done any maintenance there for the past 3 years.

Another problem is that the planting strip isn't irrigated. Although the plants that were chosen are very drought tolerant, they still need water at least once a week from June - Sept. I remember toward the fall of their first year, approximately 1/4 of the plants had died due to lack of water. The ones that survived were barely hanging on by the end of the summer. Toward the fall, someone (the city?) replaced the ones that didn't make it with brown sedges. As soon as it started raining again, the plants all thrived and the whole strip was gorgeous thru the following spring.

By the end of their 2nd summer, some plants died and the rest were again barely hanging on (due to lack of water). But again, the ones that had survived recovered when it started raining, and were gorgeous and blooming the following spring, then badly in need of water by the end of their 3rd summer (still more had died).

The plants that were lost due to lack of water in their 2nd and 3rd years weren't replaced, which left areas of bare ground for the weeds to land on. If the plants had been irrigated every summer, and if the area had been weeded at least once a year, the plants would have filled in and become so dense that the weed problem probably wouldn't have gotten as bad as it did.

What can be done at this point? It would be awesome if a sprinkler system could be installed all the way along, perhaps as part of the watershed project construction. Also, it would help if chainlink could be installed all the way along. Ideally, the chainlink would have wooden slats to provide a more solid weed barrier. Once those things are done and the bed is cleaned out, plants could be added to fill in the gaps. Blue oat grass would be a good choice.

I noticed that the city comes out once a year to do some basic upkeep on the planting beds in the Hillsdale Town Center. It would be great if they would add the Bertha strip to their to-do list.

If nothing is done, the weed problem there will just get worse and worse. But with irrigation, a weed barrier, replacement plants, and minimal on-going maintenance, it would be incredibly beautiful all year round for years to come.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Pam said...

My last comment was also in response to your Connection Article in December.

7:01 PM  

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