2013.04 April minutes

Portland bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee
April 2013 meeting
April 8, 5:30 pm, City Hall room 209

Jen Claster (chair), Betsy Critchfield (BCM), Zack Barowitz, Damon Yakovleff, Bryan Hill, Ian Jacob, Clifford Tremblay, Christian MilNeil, Alex Landry, Kurt Steiner, Brooke Burkett, Bobbi Keppel

  • Bike parking subcommittee was formed to look at improving bike parking at Transportation Center. Scope has expanded to look at the ferry terminal and citywide improvements to the bike parking ordinance. Kurt S. is the point person, subcommittee will also include Damon Y., Bryan H., Zack B.
  • EPA Bike Sharing workshops will be held in Portland May 8 and 9. PBPAC needs a representative there. Bryan is interested (pending school committments for his masters degree), if not, Jen will go.
  • Franklin Street phase 2 study: PBPAC needs a rep for this as well. Clifford T. volunteered. Christian M. and Alex L. also expect to be on the committee representing East Bayside and Bayside, respectively. Study might begin this summer and workshops should be open to the public.
  • Open Streets: Jen met with Asst. City Mgr. Sheila Hill-Christian, police, fire depts., METRO, Jeremiah Bartlett and Jan Beitzer from Portland Downtown District. No major issues raised and we're on schedule for a pilot for June First Friday, 6 to 9 pm, on Congress Street from Brown to High.
  • The June event will need volunteers to move barricades from Public Services, and some fundraising for a permit, and to compensate staffing from public safety (about $1500).
  • Anderson St. Neighborhood Byway: This and other CDBG projects (like sidewalk ramps) are on the city council's agenda immediately after our meeting [note: the City Council endorsed the project passed with full funding, as well as sidewalk improvements and lighting on Cumberland Ave. in Bayside]
  • Augusta update from Damon: BCM is working on a Complete Streets task force — bill did not pass but better policy may be in the works at MDOT. A public hearing to clarify bike operator laws is also in the works, could use people to testify in the State House. Contact Damon for details.
  • Alex L. reports that PACTS has funded a study for 2014-2015 to look at traffic circulation in Bayside. Will also examine possibility of traffic calming and converting Preble and Elm into 2-way streets (one of the PBPAC's top priority infrastructure projects that we voted on back in 2011), as well as other streets in the neighborhood.

Agenda items:


Brooke works at Camp Ketcha in Scarborough, runs summer day camps and school year programs with outdoor activities. The camp has a grant from the Sprague Fdn. to investigate the feasibility of an outdoor gear lending library and recycle-a-bicycle bike shop program. Portland has had similar programs in the past, this would also include other outdoor gear plus low-cost rentals of bikes, ice skates, etc. Eventually they'd like to include a retail storefront as well, so that kids could fix bikes, tents, etc., and sell them.

Brooke is seeking potential volunteers for an advisory committee and shop space, ideally a place that could be converted into a storefront. Focused on East Bayside but open to other ideas, ideally near schools. She'll send a description of the project to the group email list plus a link to a survey.


Last year the developers of the new Eastland Hotel proposed to replace Congress Square Park with a large ballroom. Though many agree that the current park is a sad place in need of improvement, this proposal has been very contentious. Bobbi would like the committee to take a stand on this issue based on the park's value as a resting place and pedestrian amenity on Congress St. downtown.

Ian J. and Clifford T. have been involved in Friends of Congress Square. Ian gave a brief history of the park, which was created in the late 1970s from an Urban Development Action Grant (defunct HUD program). The park replaced a Dunkin Donuts, originally a Walgreens drugstore, while also funding the new wing of the Portland Museum of Art and renovations at the Eastland Hotel. He had just spoken with city planner Alex Jaegerman, who says that the city 'is not super excited' to sell the park, but would like to support the Eastland Hotel, which has never prospered in recent years. There's an apparent stalemate because the city is unwilling to give up 100% of the park's real estate, but the hotel developers need most of the space to make a ballroom workable.

Bobbi: the intersection of Congress and High is in flux due to possible 2-way conversion. This development would quiet traffic and make the park more welcoming.

Ian: encourages people to get involved with Friends of Congress Square. They'll meet next on May 7th at 6 pm in Room 24 of City Hall (basement level).

Bobbi: the space needs more benches. She asked Dave Marshall but he was unresponsive, claiming it's not his district. Encourages people to email Kevin Donoghue, the district rep.

Ian: 2 benches just appeared there this weekend. The park is actually overseen by Jan Beitzer from Portland Downtown District.

Christian M. notes that Jan Beitzer supported the hotel proposal. Bad to have the person in charge of the park to be taking stands against the park. Beitzer also opposed the Open Streets planning. Would be nice to see the city replace Beitzer with someone more supportive of the downtown's creative economy.

Alex L.: sat on the Congress Sq. citizen's redesign committee. They met once with little advance notice. Says that the committee was "designed to be a little useless." He suggests a resolution from the committee.

Christian M. asks what the resolution would be, in the absence of any formal proposals. Suggests something in line w/ reactivating the citizens' design process, since the hotel proposal seems to be going nowhere.

Zack B.: disagrees with preserving the park, wants buildings and storefronts. He notes that there's opportunity to add public space on the southern side of Congress, in front of the museum, by closing the short section of Free St. as has been proposed several times in the past.

Jen C. asks if we're going to do a resolution. Christian M. suggests that we bounce ideas around on the email list rather than try to wordsmith something on the fly.

Note: keep an eye on the city's Housing and Community Development meeting agendas, here: http://www.portlandmaine.gov/cdc.htm. Any action on Congress Square will show up here first, most likely as an "executive session" where the Councilors will discuss terms of a possible sale.


Betsy and the Bike Coalition are working on a "walking school bus" program launching 4/24, starting w/ Reiche and East End Schools but expanding to Riverton and Lyseth. This would involved adult chaperones walking groups of kids to school, along a route designed to pick up students along the way (as a school bus would). Targets kids within 1 mi. radius of schools. Betsy notes that East End Sch. buses kids from East Bayside to the hilltop (less than 1/2 a mile away), a big expense that requires multiple bus trips per day.

The program needs adult volunteers to walk once per week, about a 1 hour commitment. This spring's pilot last 8 weeks. Volunteer training April 22. Website at portlandwalkingschoolbus.com


In accordance with PBPAC bylaws, Jen C., who had been the Vice Chair, has taken over the Chair position from Christian M.

Vacant positions up for election are the Vice Chair and Secretary.

Christian M. nominates Damon Y. for Vice Chair. Reminds everyone that this means Damon would take over the Chair position from Jen C. in April 2014.

Alex L. seconds the nomination.

Christian M. also volunteers to be the group's secretary.

With no other nominations, Jen C. calls for a vote on Damon's appointment to Vice Chair. Passes unanimously.

Christian M. offers thanks to Jen and Damon for volunteering, and expresses his belief that it's good for the organization to have new people taking leadership roles.