Park Decay is Not a “Haves vs Have Nots” Issue

North Park Blocks Vandalism
North Park Blocks Vandalism

Mayor Hales & Commissioner Fritz –

I am one of the many concerned citizens actively trying to clean up the North Park Blocks of illegal activities.  I am writing to you both directly since I haven’t been able to attend the meetings led by Michelle Cardinal of R2C Group.

I am in a smaller minority within this committed group whose personal life & financial livelihood has been effected on a daily basis by the criminal element plaguing the North Park Blocks.  I reside in the neighborhood and also own a  business nearly.  I have seen first-hand, 24/7 the rapid decline of the area this past summer.

After hearing about Mayor Hales meeting this past Tuesday at City Hall, I am mainly concerned with Commissioner Fritz’ nonchalant attitude & comment to our problem stating “the parks are for everyone” then leaving only after staying for 20 minutes.  Has Fritz seen the “everyone” that concerns us as residents & business owners?  If not, I am attaching pictures again for her education. (See one above)

We are talking about not those unfortunate people that are truly homeless but criminals taking advantage of the system by choice, preying not only on tax-paying citizens & tourists but also on exactly these folks down on their luck trying to simply survive, regain their dignity & recover from their demons.

I find it insulting & read the undertones of Fritz’ comment that insinuates those of us voicing our concerns are simply the “haves” against the “have nots”.

Speaking for myself & my husband, we are deeply aware & concerned for the homeless not only in our neighborhood but citywide.  Each year since relocating here, we actively contribute to fundraisers for Central City Concern, Insight, Cascade Aids Project & Junior Achievement because these socially enlightened programs are one of the many wonderful things that inspired us to live in this wonderful city.

I recently read in The Portland Business Journal comments by Tripwire’s retiring CEO, Jim Johnson that sums up things perfectly – “The thing we run the risk on – Portland is a jewel & there are wonderful things in Portland – but we are tolerant of not-so-good behavior”.  Portland has rightfully become a destination for national & international tourist because of the natural splendor in the surrounding areas co-existing with urban flare of unique shopping, world-class food & of course beer.

Open Table has just named 7 of Portland’s restaurants in their Top 100 restaurants in the US & among them is Park Kitchen, one of my personal favorites.  Recently, I met a lovely couple visiting from Washington, DC shopping neighborhood & I recommended they eat at Park Kitchen to which they replied “we just passed the park & it is very scary during the day, we wouldn’t dream of going there at night for dinner”…my heart sank & I was speechless!  How do I defend that when I see the truth in that statement?  My heart breaks as a proud business owner trying to survive in an otherwise tough retail environment & also hearing that my fellow business owners have been struggling since the decline of the park in recent months.

If our mayor & city council member doesn’t see the economic implications in ignoring this problem, then I don’t think they deserve the position of leading a city that is growing & gaining worldwide recognition.  It is the hard-working businesses & residents of Portland that are paying taxes to fund social programs, upgrade municipal infrastructure & pay city employees salaries.

We need beefed up city police presence in the parks, the park rangers & out-sourced security teams like Pacific Patrol aren’t equipped to deal with the mess invading the area.  We will keep up the pressure through television & newspaper media, social media until our needs are addressed.  With Emerson School directly impacted by the NPB, the city is setting itself up for a legal nightmare if something tragic happens to a child.  One of the lesser but still very dangerous concerns I have been calling the city about over the past few months is travelers vandalizing lamp posts exposing electrical wires to charge their electronic equipment (I have included those images too).

I look forward to hearing from you on this urgent matter, thank you in advance!

Mayor Visits Park – What Happens Next?

Shooting Up in North Park Blocks Sept 3, 2015
Shooting Up in North Park Blocks Sept 3, 2015

Dear Mayor,
Thank you for your walk in the North Park Blocks initiated by the Emerson School this morning. I would like to share with you the events of my day subsequent to your walk.

By noon:

  1. I had to call Clean & Safe to remove shit that someone smeared on one of our office entryway doors. Our offices face the North Park Blocks.
  2. I watched two guys shoot up sitting on the curb on the park block at Flanders & 8th, took photos (on guy above), called the police immediately and gave Portland Police dispatch complete descriptions of what they were wearing and the fact they have a small red grocery cart and a bike. No one showed up nor has the police dept. called me back. And yes, I told Dispatch I had photos.
  3. Two of my employees watched a guy pull down his pants and take a dump in the park (basketball and bocce ball court block) between Flanders and Glisan.It is my understanding that you intend to walk the Park Blocks again in October. I would encourage you to time your walk later in the morning as illegal activities ramp up during the morning. Your walk this morning at 8:00 a.m. was too early for many of the daily illegal activities to start.