We now (on less than 24 hours notice) have a location for tonight's emergency meeting of the Lents Park Master Plan Project Advisory Committee (PAC).
Tuesday, October 19
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
East Portland Community Center
740 SE 106th Avenue
PAC meeting are open to the public and include opportunities for public input. Tonight's meeting is for the PAC to finish deliberations and adopt a Preferred Design map to be released to the public for the next stage of public comment. Part of the meeting will also be dedicated to a technical consultation between the PAC and Portland Parks staff regarding the proposal to re-purpose at least one soccer field as gardens and pathways.
As Friends of Lents Park's representative to the PAC, I am concerned about the current state of the process, which doesn't seem workable or democratic. Below is the text of an e-mail I have sent to the PAC and City staff as of this morning.
Kathleen Juergens de Ponce
I think the process is in trouble.
Even if we get a quorum of the PAC for tonight's emergency meeting (on less than 24 hours notice of the location), and even if we reach consensus on a map within the hour allotted, we are left with two problems.
(1) Under the working schedule, we are supposed to be finalizing the comment form by tomorrow, and we haven't even started. I suppose we could get this done by Friday...if the committee has time for another crazy hurry-up task. Do we?
(2) No flyer has been produced for the Listening Sessions, which are supposed to start in less than a week. To my knowledge, no publicity at all has gone out, other than the e-mails I've sent to my own group. Even if we get right to work on this (while working on the comment form?), I don't see many people being able to do flyer distribution until this weekend, which is only 1-2 days notice. This feels like a setup for failure.
I ask again, as my group has asked before, where's the fire? What's the rush? This is supposed to be a plan for the next 25 years. Let's prioritize doing it right over doing it fast.
Part of the problem I see is that the committee is supposed to be adopting a Preferred Design map, but that's not really what we're doing. Instead, we are continuing to generate and kick around new ideas (including ideas that have never previously been discussed in the neighborhood, such as moving the gazebo to the park's west edge). New ideas are great and need to be discussed! But why are we putting them in a map called "Preferred Design," when we have previously promised the public that this map will be a consolidation of THEIR public input?
Given where we're at, the process could move forward better like this:
* Have tonight's meeting go forward as a technical consultation with the parks people over the sports fields, which needs to happen anyway. Spend the rest of it having the PAC adopt a workable schedule for the rest of the process that we all take ownership and responsibility for, including fleshing out how the Listening Sessions will work.
* Do the Listening Sessions as a stand-alone part of the process, so that we can get direction from the public about the new ideas that are continuing to be generated. Postpone them a bit further, as needed to make sure that we have meaningful outreach.
* The PAC then meets to finish our deliberations over the Preferred Design map, which should be much easier at that point. We begin work by e-mail on the comment form.
* We then hold an open house to present the map, and open public comment for three weeks.
* PAC then meets to finalize the master plan, and it goes forward to adoption.
If people don't like these suggestions, then I'd like to see other ideas for how the procedural snarls outlined above can be resolved.
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