To get a hold on all the changes planned for Foster Road, as well as the groups invested in seeing those changes through, is enough to make your head spin. On one hand, there are the respective neighborhood associations (NAs) who advocate for its residents. Then, there are those residents who offer up their time and energy to assist their NAs, as well as their own outreach and organizing efforts, to push for long overdue changes to Foster Road.
And then it gets a little murky.
The Portland Development Commission has long overseen development along Foster Road, mostly as a result of their work in the Lents Town Center, and the subsequent inclusion of the western stretch of Foster (from 82nd to 52nd) in that Urban Renewal Area. But now, as the PDC focuses on economic development and figures out how to develop vacant or soon-to-be razed properties they own in the Lents Town Center, they’ve given PBOT the reins in implementing the Foster Road Transportation and Streetscape Plan.
But, the PDC and PBOT are not the only groups involved. Enter the Foster Green EcoDistrict, part of a 2009 citywide campaign to focus urban planning on community sustainability and growth in targeted neighborhoods across the city. Of the five areas targeted in the city, Lents and, then subsequently, several neighborhoods that border Foster Road, were included and dubbed “Foster Green.” As their website states, the Foster Green EcoDistrict’s goal is “to bring investments that enhance the environment and improve quality of life to the Foster area.” By bringing together the various stakeholders (i.e. the PDC, Portland Sustainability Institute, business and neighborhood associations, etc.) whose interests overlap along Foster Road and its environs, it was assumed this approach would bring a broad and comprehensive view on how to make the affected areas more sustainable and developed accordingly. With targeted pilot projects, community partnerships, and planning and outreach, Foster Green would incorporate its goals of sustainable growth into the city’s overall development plan for the area.
And that still may happen. And they certainly have built the partnerships necessary to do it. However, Foster Green does not do project management. And they are not the group responsible for design or implementation of the Foster Streetscape Plan.
Now enter the Foster-Lents Integration Partnership (FLIP). Tasked with developing the Foster Corridor Investment Strategy for the area between SE 122nd and SE 52nd, this partnership includes such city agencies as the Bureau of Environmental Services and PBOT, as well as community groups and local non-profits. Whereas Foster Green will focus on the community engagement and empowerment aspect of development in the area, FLIP will focus on the infrastructure necessary to attract business and leverage private investment. With an investment strategy in place, FLIP would, in an ideal world, bring together the engagement piece from Foster Green, and combine the efforts of the various city agencies and community groups to effect real and lasting changes along Foster Road.
This brings us up to date, where the PDC will be hosting an open house tomorrow night to provide an overview of the said investment strategy. Meanwhile, SERA Architects is providing assessment and consulting for the PDC (and in collaboration with FLIP) to lay the groundwork for the future refresh of the Foster Streetscape Plan. FLIP, too, is working with Foster Green to boost community outreach, at which point has been done primarily and more successfully by neighborhood groups seeking more responsiveness by the city. Ideally, the various neighborhood groups will be more engaged by the city, FLIP, and Foster Green, to make the most out of local energy and interest in making Foster Road the best that it can be.
Last week, representatives from the Foster-Powell and Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Associations hosted their own outreach effort at Mt. Scott Community Center, and the interest and support for changing the Foster landscape was great. The hope now is that the various city agencies, community organizations, and neighborhood groups can work together for the greater good. It is important residents and stakeholders stay engaged and informed. One way to do that is to get involved with the various outreach efforts and information sessions conducted by the city and neighborhood groups. Another is to make your voices heard, either through the above channels or by attending neighborhood association meetings and/or contacting local representatives who are attached to this process. Tomorrow night’s meeting at the Mt. Scott Learning Center (6418 SE Holgate…behind 7-11) will be just a step in that direction, but the PDC needs to hear from you. If we aren’t participating in the process, we will have little say in how it plays out. And with limited funds, it’ll be important to work closely with the PDC and PBOT to create a productive and efficient partnership that best capitalizes off of the opportunity we have to make Foster great.
Please see attached images for more information, as this is a general overview of the process and steps that have brought us to where we are now. See you Wednesday, June 27th, at the Mt. Scott Learning Center.