PNA works because of participants
This letter is in response to Pat Dulin's letter 'Concerns raised about dealing with Palisades Neighborhood Association,' which appeared in the Nov. 1issue of the Lake Oswego Review.
Mr. Dulin asked what the main function of a neighborhood association was. According to the Lake Oswego Citizen Involvement Guidelines, neighborhood associations are charged with increasing citizen involvement, notifying neighbors of issues affecting their neighborhood and then representing the view of the neighborhood to appropriate governing bodies. Mr. Dulin noted that citizen involvement within the PNA has increased dramatically recently. With this increased participation, it is more likely that the view of the whole neighborhood will be represented.
Mr. Dulin attempted to discredit the legitimacy of the PNA board by referring to the events surrounding the PNA election of board members last June. Over 100 neighbors did show up eager to vote in a publicized, scheduled election on June 6. Those neighbors understandably became angry when they were told during the course of the meeting that elections had been canceled. This was doubly upsetting because elections were supposed to have been held 2 months prior to this.
People did become emotional, as we Americans do, when our right to vote is taken away. Not ones to be deterred, over 100 neighbors showed up for an election once again, on June 28. Under city supervision an election was held and 17 new board members were elected to represent this neighborhood.
Mr. Dulin says that these neighbors who keep showing up in huge numbers are only interested in protecting the use of Lakeridge fields. He uses the term 'special interest group.'
In an ideal world, every resident would show up at every neighborhood meeting. The reality is that it usually takes a concern to pull people away from their families to sit through a community meeting. Many neighbors were concerned enough to attend a neighborhood meeting last October, 2006 for the purpose of voting to keep field lights at Lakeridge High School. That meeting adjourned without allowing those neighbors an opportunity to vote. These neighbors feel strongly that Lakeridge High School should be allowed to use its existing facilities in the same way that every other high school does. They want the school district and city to know that they support using Lakeridge as a fully functioning high school. These are the neighbors who keep leaving their dinner tables and kids' activities to attend neighborhood meetings and school board meetings. They are exercising their right to free speech just as those opposed to their viewpoint are doing and they are doing it through the democratic processes in place.
Palisades Neighborhood is a large and diverse neighborhood with members working on many important issues in addition to those involving Lakeridge. The neighborhood association is currently working on Safe Routes to Schools, traffic calming, in-fill, getting the 20-year neighborhood plan adopted, emergency response and a neighborhood park to name a few.
Mr. Dulin concludes by asking what to do when your neighborhood is taken over. Mr. Dulin, your neighborhood association wasn't taken over. An election was held. A vote was taken. 17 board members were elected by a ballot count.
As long as neighbors want a voice in the PNA, they will be given an opportunity to speak at both board and general membership meetings. Every comment was listened to with respect at our Oct. 17 meeting. Every opinion is taken into consideration, even when they cannot be presented as the view of the whole neighborhood association.
Palisades Neighborhood Association is working because of the tremendous participation of our dedicated and involved citizens. Please keep coming back. We are always happy to hear from you.
Sally Moncrieff is the chair of the Palisades Neighborhood Association in Lake Oswego.