Friday, December 22, 2006

Unity? Vision? We got it, now show us the money!

In yesterday's "In Portland" section, Fred Leeson has written a hand-wringer about the plight, and potential, of West Portland Town Center. That's where Barbur and Capitol Highway converge in a messy intersection near the I-5 on-ramp headed south.

The center has no center. It defies affection. The WPTC, along with "the Barbur corridor," were never included in the Southwest Community Plan because folks couldn't agree on what to do about them—nor did they much care.

The business association along Barbur was a disgruntled handful of guys who gathered at the Golden Touch largely to carp about City Hall. Their vision extended as far as their omelettes and hash browns.

But now the Barbur/WPTC area is getting some outside attention because TriMet is making vague mutterings about running light rail out Barbur (Don't forget a spur to PCC Sylvania!).

Moreover, high-rise development along Barbur is looking more and more attractive and lucrative (vis. the South Waterfront and the Pearl). The tacky thoroughfare holds promise for lofty, tony habitation and commerce.

Ever check out the knockout view of Mt. Hood from the top of the I-5 rise?

Despite the promise, businesses and residents remain tepid about doing anything.

So here's what gets me...

WPTC's doldrums are in marked contrast to the craving for change in the Hillsdale Town Center. Here we carry around a list of action items: a civic plaza, a solar-heated cover for the farmers market, a master plan for the Hillsdale Triangle, expansion of DeWitt Park, undergrounding Capitol Highway utilities, and sidewalks on Sunset.

But in Leeson's story, Metro Counselor Robert Liberty, who represents this area and knows Hillsdale's desires well, says that unless WPTC and Barbur show some enthusiasm, "unity of vision and purpose," don't count on Metro to put any money into the area.

Don't believe it, West Portland. Here in the Metro-designated Hillsdale Town Center we are bursting with vision, purpose and enthusiasm...and we are still begging for funds to move us forward.

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