Engaging the Community: public involvement in planning the N. Williams Safety Project
Project Purpose and Objectives
The purpose of this project is to make traveling on North Williams Avenue between Weidler and Killingsworth safer and more comfortable for all users. This project has seven objectives (as amended by the Stakeholder Advisory Committee on December 6, 2011):
- To conduct an open planning process through which all voices can be heard by the City.
- To reduce or manage traffic conflicts between people bicycling, people driving, and buses operating on North Williams.
- To improve conditions for bicycling on North Williams.
- To maintain or improve conditions for walking on or across North Williams.
- To explore innovative solutions and strategies in the North Vancouver/Williams corridor.
- To create conditions for transit service, traffic flow, parking and active transportation that support existing businesses and future business development.
- To honor the history of North Williams Avenue through elements of the transportation project.
Engaging the Community
A Stakeholder Advisory Committee was convened in February, 2011, to advise the Bureau of Transportation and make recommendations on project design. On April 16, 2011, a public open house to explore options for traffic operations improvements attracted about 125 people. The boards from this event are available online as a "virtual" open house. Comments were accepted through the end of April. A summary of the public comments is available as a PDF in the sidebar to the left.
At the open house and at subsequent meetings of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee, it became clear that there were deep community concerns raised by this project, many of which go beyond this project and touch on the history of the district, its historical treatment by government, its changing demographics, and the nature of decision-making. In June, the project team announced that the community process for this project would be extended. A letter from the project manager explaining the decision can be viewed or downloaded from the sidebar. During June and July the project team conducted community meetings to learn more about the community concerns and engage additional stakeholders in the process.
At the August 2011 meeting, the Stakeholder Advisory Committee was expanded to include greater representation from adjacent business owners and long-time neighbors. A membership roster for the expanded committee can be viewed or downloaded from the sidebar to the left, as can all meeting agendas and notes.
A community forum was held on November 28, 2011, and attracted more than 175 people. Mayor Sam Adams opened the event and introduced three key decision-makers who were there to listen: Tom Miller, Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation; Susan Anderson, Director of the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability; and Patrick Quinton, Director of the Portland Development Commission. Planning and Sustainability Commissioner Chris Smith was also in attendance. Thanks to a partnership between the City's Intergroup Dialogue, Resolutions North-West, and Uniting to Understand Racism, there were 18 volunteer facilitators available to guide table discussions during the small group exercise.
Notes from the forum are posted in the sidebar to the left.