by: David F. Ashton, Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association’s new President, Gretchen Sperling, got the ENA’s first open house event, on February 15th, underway.

The members of the Board of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association thought that holding a special event might attract a few more residents to their organization than had been attending their monthly Board meetings.

It seemed to work. The meeting room at Eastmoreland Bar and Grill, at Eastmoreland Golf Course, was steadily accumulating attendees as the 7 pm Open House began, on Thursday evening, February 15th.

The association's new president, Gretchen Sperling, told us the ENA had mailed invitations to every home in the neighborhood, hoping to attract new faces to their organization. By the time Sperling began her formal introduction, at least 45 people had arrived and taken a seat.

'Our vision is to encourage more participation in our neighborhood,' Sperling began. 'We're inviting more people into the conversation.'

Around the country, she said, when people talk about 'livability', Portland usually is at the top of the list. 'One of the reasons this happens is because of our incredible neighborhoods. We have so many different ways to live together.'

She explained that the reason for holding the February open house was that the neighborhood association's board members wanted more input from the neighbors they serve. 'Issues are getting so complicated, we aren't comfortable making critical decisions - without inviting more people into the conversation.'

Asked to inventory the issues with which the association is currently dealing, Sperling counted them off:

· Maintenance of the garden - The group is working to establish an endowment for the continuing care of the Eastmoreland Garden, which welcomes people to the neighborhood right across from where the meeting was being held at the Eastmoreland Golf Course.

· Concern and care for the tree canopy - A committee cares for the health of the lush canopy of trees, including tree inoculation and Dutch elm disease.

· Railroad noise issues - The 1955 injunction was upheld by a federal judge several years ago and now the Union Pacific is to comply with the terms of that agreement; other neighborhoods are starting to participate in this issue.

· Reed College's use of Parker House - The planned capacity of use was greater than the neighborhood would like to see. A hearing officer found in favor of the neighborhood; but the college is reapplying for conditional use permit.

· Off-leash dog use at Duniway School - The ENA is dealing with the concerns about dogs running free--and the owners who don't scoop their pets' waste.

· Crime issues - Crime has increased in the neighborhood; police say it is coming from 'fearless' meth addicts, who come down the Springwater Trail. 'They have no fear, and break into homes even with people home. They'll climb up trees and over flat roofs to gain entry.' Several second-story break-ins have recently been reported near S.E. Knapp Street and 35th.

Although Sperling had expected the event to be an informal gathering, neighbors new to the association raised questions on a wide variety of topics, including why the long-promised Inner Southeast MAX line has not yet been built.

Ending the meeting, Sperling invited the crowd, now numbering more than sixty, to address their specific concerns individually with the committee chairs and board members present at the meeting.

'Come to our regular meetings each month, on the third Thursday, at the Duniway School library,' she invited. 'But, you don't even have to come to the meetings to be involved! There are many subcommittees that would love to have your participation.'

After the meeting, Sperling told THE BEE, 'I'm thrilled to see so many people show up, and show interest in our community. I'm tickled. I'm hopeful this will translate into better attendance at our monthly meetings. I'm cautiously optimistic.'

When Thursday evening, March 22nd, comes around, perhaps David Perkinson, whom we met as he looked over an exhibit showing the diversity of Eastmoreland trees, will be in attendance at Duniway School. He commented to us, 'My first meeting, although I've lived here for 16 years. Maybe I'll come to another one.'

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