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NORTHEAST

Group forms MLK plan

A stakeholder advisory group is meeting Jan. 15 to work on its 'gateway' plan for Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The group is part of an initiative by the Portland Development Commission. Among other things, the group is working on a plan for a series of heritage markers along the street.

The work is meant to help fulfill goals in the Albina Community Plan for the neighborhood.

The meeting will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Community Room C at Irvington Village, at 420 N.E. Mason St.

SOUTHEAST

City offers utility bill aid

Learn how to save on water and sewer bills through a series of upcoming workshops sponsored by the Portland Water Bureau.

The city offers financial assistance to qualified customers who need help paying water, sewer and storm-water management bills.

Those who earn less than 60 percent of the state median income, or under $3,098 a month for a family of four, are eligible.

Participants will receive tips on financial assistance and a free water conservation kit, including a water-saving shower head, sink aerators, toilet kits, and leak and conservation brochures.

The workshops are 8:45 a.m. Jan. 16 at Whitman Elementary School, 7326 S.E. Flavel St., and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at Arleta Elementary School, 5109 S.E. 66th Ave.

Attendees should bring their water and sewer bill, plus income statements. Sign up by calling 503-823-3555, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

EAST

Lents wins grant

Lents residents received some good news recently, though it hasn't been formally announced.

Metro Councilor Robert Liberty has been informally notified that Harvard University plans to award a Loeb Fellowship grant to study the reuse of vacant state-owned property that runs beneath an elevated portion of Interstate 205 between Southeast Foster Road and Woodstock Boulevard.

The fellowship will pay two experts to study whether the land could be turned into an iconic public-use asset that may include elements for storm-water diversion. One possibility would be a parklike area that could host the summertime Lents International Farmers Market.

The experts are Craig Barton, the chairman of the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia's School of Architecture, and Charles McKinney, chief of design of capital projects for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

'It's pretty exciting,' said Dewey Akers, the Lents Neighborhood Association president. 'These are high-powered individuals.'

SOUTHWEST

Tax to fix streets is topic

Discussions over financing of local street improvements continue between the Portland Office of Transportation and the transportation committee of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc., the coalition organization working with Southwest Portland neighborhood associations.

At the suggestion of city Commissioner Sam Adams, the talks focus on whether local property owners can tax themselves to build needed sidewalks, bicycle paths and other alternative transportation features on the substandard streets that serve the area.

Questions also include how to fairly allocate the financial burden between those living different distances from the proposed improvements.

Concept plans are being prepared for stretches of Southwest 35th Avenue and Hamilton and Vermont streets. The sketches will be presented at the next transportation committee meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 14, at the Multnomah Center, 7688 S.W. Capitol Highway.

NORTHWEST

Fish find winter home

The goldfish and koi that populate the pond at Tanner Springs Park in the Pearl District haven't frozen or been removed, according to Tom Fay, their unofficial caretaker. They're just wintering under the pond's bridge, he says.

Fay says a number of park visitors have told him they thought the fish were gone, possibly as a result of Portland Parks and Recreation's attempts to remove them from the pond.

The non-native fish never were intended for the park, which is supposed to replicate a natural local ecosystem, according to parks officials, who say they have suspended their attempts to capture the fish.

But even Fay, who regularly feeds the fish with food supplied at half-price from a local pet store, is worried that some of the fish might be endangered because they have begun to overpopulate the small pond.

He says the big black and yellow fish appear to have created 30 to 40 offspring in the past year, and he expects more in the spring.

NORTH

Library sites considered

North Portland neighbors have just a month or so more of waiting until the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners recommends a final site for the new library branch.

The board got approval Dec. 13 to start negotiations with the landowners of the three remaining potential sites, all in Kenton: a vacant storefront on North Denver Avenue, a mixed-use development at North Willis Boulevard and Brandon Avenue, and a mixed-use space owned by TriMet on North Argyle Street.

A fourth site, at the planned Hope Meadows foster care community in Portsmouth, has been dropped from consideration.

Now it will come down to 'whoever can give us the better deal and can give us what we need,' said Karol Collymore, who's coordinating the process through Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen's office.

By the end of January, Collymore said, county property management specialist Mike Sublett will recommend one site to the board, which then will go to the community for design input. The library will begin construction soon after.

- Tribune staff