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Moses Ross on Multnomah


Multnomah Neighborhood Association chairman discusses present and future of the village he calls home

Q: What do you think the future of the Multnomah neighborhood and Southwest in general is? by: DREW DAKESSIAN - Moses Ross

A: You know, I think it’s pretty solid because investments that the city and the neighbors have made in the community over the last 10-20 years are starting to finally come to fruition has far as the sidewalks and the safe pathways along Multnomah Boulevard … organization … and those same things on Southwest Vermont, you know, the work that they’re doing here, the raindrop walk.

Q: What exactly is that?

A: Basically, they’re just flip-flopping the parking and the street, so if it’s parallel parking on the north side, it will be parallel on the south side.

Q: What brought that about?

A: A desire to increase the amount of space for sidewalk and for street improvements and I guess just for the businesses … I don’t know the full details, but they decided to do that. And they’re going to be improving the parking by the Multnomah Arts Center; right now it’s all dirt. So I think it’s all indicative of the forward thinking that my predecessors did and the people in the neighborhood did over a period of time in cooperation with the city; the city’s been a solid partner for us as far as vetting new projects and communicating those and listening to the neighbors and business association. It’s definitely a process, and it’s definitely a process that works when the neighbors get involved.

Q: What would you say have been some of the highlights in Multnomah this year?

A: Oh, this year’s been an exciting year. Let’s see. Let’s start off with Multnomah Days. We had thousands of people around here this year; it was our best one yet, and it wasn’t very hot so we had a lot more people out. That’s always, in my view, the highlight of the season. We had the Halloween trick-or-treats for the kids through the business community, through the business strip. We have the ongoing construction, in the finalization of the Stephens Creek Crossing, which is the new construction of the old Hillsdale Terrace property and that’s another example of community cooperation with the city, you know, communicating properly. We were able to really address the concerns of the folks that live along Southwest California, and, once again, using the neighborhood association as that conduit to addressing concerns. We had Sunday Parkways here for the very first time, both on the front and the back end of the business section. Being able to cycle through all of that unimpeded, it was pretty fun. The Armory, oh my goodness, that’s a huge one. After years of deliberation, work and process to get the department of defense to decommission and to reassign that property for many years the assumption was that it was going to be low-income, mixed housing that was going to be constructed there, and recent developments changed that and turned it over to the city of Portland for use as an emergency management operations center, and we’ve already received commitments from the city and from the emergency management Portland office to use that as a touchstone for the community for emergency management trainings and outreach, so the city can use that to reach out to the neighbors and help them feel better and have it as a focal point in case of an emergency. It’s just a win-win as far as how it’s getting back to the community. The armory is fantastic; I’m so excited about that as far as it becoming a jewel, you know, a community asset. Another thing, we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as far as construction.

Q: At Stephens Creek?

A: On Multnomah Boulevard and those places. And there is some, Southwest Vermont from 30th to 40th, I believe, is going to have new bikeways and pathways, sidewalks placed there. And then Multnomah Boulevard, from 25th to 35th, is going to have all-new sidewalks and bikeways with the bioswales separating the bike paths from the road, so it’s a brand-new design, it’s really exciting, and it’s all coming down within the next year. All those construction projects are finally coming to an end, or at least the light is at the end of the tunnel. That will help residents on their trips.

Q: How long have you been a resident of Multnomah?

A: About four years now.

Q: What brought you here?

A: I originally lived up over in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and then I became a single father to my now eight-year-old, and we had to find a bigger place, so we found one here in the village right off of Capitol Highway, so we lived there in that place, and I’ve been involved civically with the Democratic Party of Oregon for many years, so it just seemed like a natural thing to do, to get involved with the neighborhood association. At the time, due to lack of interest, community involvement, the neighborhood association was having to change their bylaws to allow motions to be approved without a full quorum, using only the vote of one person, the chair. It was necessitated because of lack of involvement. We didn’t have the officer positions filled, and so nothing could get passed. I read this in The Southwest Community Connection and I thought, Alright somebody’s got to step up. They appointed me as treasurer, and chair came up a few months later, and ran for chair I took over and have been doing it ever since. It’s been about two and a half years now.

Q: Do you expect to do it for a long time?

A: You know, I feel like I’m just hitting my stride now as far as understanding the local issues and understanding the process of how to answer questions that residents have and how to facilitate answers … I do play to run again as chair for at least another year term, and just see what kind of fun we can have. We’ve got a few projects that I really would like to see pass before I feel satisfied, and quite frankly I don’t think you can ever feel satisfied because, you know, community is a process. Paraphrasing the old saying, the wise men are the ones that plan on park benches that they will never sit in. I kind of take that approach.