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Transit center plan in final stages

Preferred plan option given the go-ahead by council
by: Group Mackenzie This is the latest preferred option as presented to the City Council at a workshop Tuesday, Jan. 3.

With the issue of security at the planned Sandy Transit Center still undecided, the City Council gave a general-consensus OK to the project at a recent meeting.

During a workshop on the project - designed by Group MacKenzie - councilors heard a couple of people speak about the expected influx of undesirable people to the planned public transit center.

One man, who said he has lived in the area for 40 years, talked about gang activity in Gresham in response to one councilor who had said the area could be monitored because the police station is only a couple of blocks away from Centennial Plaza.

'You try to enforce what's going on,' he said, 'and it still goes on.'

At the council meeting immediately after the workshop, the topic of security continued to dominate the discussion.

Cyndi McKenna, owner of Cool Printing on Proctor Boulevard and adjacent to the plaza, said she has had bad experiences with her building in Gresham, which is near the end of the MAX line at Cleveland Station.

'Our building gets tagged (graffiti) all the time,' she said. 'We gave up on painting the back of the building (constantly covered with graffiti), and our mailbox and electrical box are constantly covered with graffiti. Gresham has a really good task force to stop graffiti, but it still happens.'

McKenna suggested if the city puts a surveillance camera high on the nearest building or across the street at City Hall, taggers or other undesirable people will still come because they don't know the camera is there.

The MAX line in Gresham is a gathering place, a 'magnet,' McKenna said. She described an excessive number of thefts from the business leasing her Gresham building as well as thefts from cars parked nearby - and the thefts continue, she said.

Councilor Phil Moyer said if several cameras were trained on Centennial Plaza it would be a deterrent for a lot of criminal activity.

'And if (cameras) is the best we can do,' he said, 'at least it is something.'

Moyer said he isn't concerned with Sandy turning into another Rockwood or Southeast Portland, but he did predict an increase of criminal activity with a new transit center.

Discussion at both meetings centered briefly on adding more electrical power receptacles around the plaza, since some of the community activities already conducted there have had difficulty and needed lots of extension cords.

Councilor Jeremy Pietzold asked Chris Clemow, Group MacKenzie's director of transportation, if there would be exterior power receptacles on the restroom building.

The electrical design has not been finished, but Clemow said new service would have to be connected for the transit center's needs.

'The short answer is we can get whatever power you need,' he said. 'It depends on how much you want to spend getting it.'

But if the improvement Pietzold requested is to be accomplished during this project, it is likely that City Manager Scott Lazenby will have to find funds from another source.

The transit center is being funded mainly through a grant, whose funds cannot be used for electrical improvements for activities other than the transit center.

Mayor Bill King confirmed that idea when he said, 'I think the issue we're going to run into here now is that we're designing a transit mall, not improvement to the plaza.'

During the workshop with Group MacKenzie designers, Clemow outlined some of the features and changes from the current site.

Those features included changing Hoffman Avenue's direction of travel only to the north, reducing parking from 16 to 12 spaces, making the shelter like the one near Walgreen's, adding a bike rack next to the shelter, placing an information kiosk inside the shelter and adding restrooms near the museum parking lot with two doors - one for the public and one for bus drivers.

When this project is completed, Hoffman Avenue between the boulevards would have three lanes: one for bus parking and loading, one for northbound travel and one for passenger vehicle parking.

The revised entrance to park at Cool Printing, Clemow said, would be from Proctor Boulevard, and their customers' exit would be onto northbound Hoffman.

Construction wouldn't begin until after the Sandy Mountain Festival and Music, Fair and Feast in late July.

For more information, call Community Services Director Nancy Enabnit at 503-668-5569.