Portland market backers

go after federal funds

An appropriations bill in the U.S. House of Representatives will include $100,000 for design of a public market in Portland.

The bill, on which the House will vote later this summer, is part of a package to fund Department of Housing and Urban Development programs. Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., is taking credit for the Portland market stipulation.

'I look forward to the day when Oregonians, like the residents of other Northwest cities, have access to a vibrant public market,' Wu said in a news release.

Public market proponents began studying the feasibility of a market in late 1999. Ron Paul, who was an aide to former city Commissioner Charlie Hales, is one of the plan's biggest supporters.

The city has been without a public market since 1941. Supporters have pitched several sites for the venture, including one near the main post office in Northwest Portland and one next to Saturday Market.

Parking fees dip

at Star Park garage

In the latest battle of the parking garages, Star Park recently lowered the daily price at its Southwest Alder Street garage by $1.

The price drop Ñ from $9.50 to $8.50 a day Ñ was prompted by the summer doldrums as well as the slow economy.

'We're trying to get more business,' said Barry Schlesinger, president of Star Park, who challenged his competitor, City Center Parking, to follow suit. 'Some of it is summer. It's slow after the Rose Festival. Some of it might be due to economic malaise we're facing.'

Despite fewer drivers, they are still making a profit, he said.

Even with the lowered cost, Star Park's Alder Street garage is not the cheapest in town. Several garages, including The Garage on Southwest Jefferson, charge $7 a day.

Star Park took over operation of the city's SmartPark garages in July, but Schlesinger said it's way too early to talk about any changes.

'We're just getting to know the garages and have a feel for them,' he said.

Meanwhile, 40 firms have responded to the city's call for a marketing consultant to promote downtown. The marketing had once been part of the operating contract for the city's six parking garages.

Also pursuing the marketing contract is a group of minority chambers of commerce, which teamed with Star Park on the parking contract.

The city intends to award the $400,000 contract in early August.

Energy Trust offers

gas, solar savings

Energy Trust of Oregon is offering cash incentives to encourage customers of three utilities to reduce their solar and natural gas energy costs.

The incentives are available to customers of Pacific Power, Portland General Electric and NW Natural.

Energy Trust is offering financial incentives for solar energy installations, as well as insulation, duct sealing and thermal windows in homes with gas or electric heat.

Up to $7,000 is being offered for homeowners and up to $20,000 for businesses. Energy Trust projects that solar electric systems can save up to 15 percent or more on a monthly power bill.

Ñ Kristina Brenneman,

Andy Giegerich