The police want to close a portion of Old Town between the hours of 10:00 P.M. and 3:00 A.M. on Fridays and Saturdays. The Oregonian article Old Town weekend-night street closures: good or bad for the neighborhood? posits the situation "as a catalyst to revitalize the downtown Portland district and argue that it has the potential to increase patronage and draw new business to the area;" or it "could make problems with public drunkenness, safety and noise worse."
Old Town's negative development is finally coming to light, apparently with little fight from Old Town. See this idiotic piece by Mike Boyer, Crime Prevention Coordinator, Office of Neighborhood Involvement. In it he states:
"The pilot program to establish an expanded pedestrian‐only Entertainment Area is a vital first step in moving forward to a dedicated Entertainment District for the City of Portland. In addition to enhancing public safety by establishing formal boundaries and reducing incidents, establishing a true Entertainment District has the potential to increase patronage, draw new business, and act as a catalyst to to revitalize Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood."
Catalyst to revitalize Old Town. What balls. How does allowing more drunks in the area revitalize any area? Look - a dedicated Entertainment District sounds the death knell for Old Town development as a neighborhood.
Remember the $4.5 million boondoggle called the 3rd and 4th Avenue Streetscape Plan that was to act a catalyst to bring vitality to the neighborhood? Did it? No! Has the MAX brought anything other than crime? No! What we have in Old Town is the warehousing of pedophiles, open-air drug market, and crime rates not found anywhere else in Portland.
It has always been this 'entertainment' part of Old Town that along with social services that has decimated the prospects of Old Town from ever being a neighborhood. This closure benefits only the police (makes their job easier) and the bar and strip clubs (increases their patronage) - there is no benefit to the "neighborhood" of Old Town.
The closure is simply a recognition that drunkenness and general rowdiness has taken control of Old Town. So the solution is to make it easier for the drunks, drug users and general low class knuckle draggers to have their fun at the expense of others.
As much as I like and respect Howard Weiner (quoted in the Oregonian piece) his 'let's all get along' attitude represents a retreat from the development plan for Old Town. And, it can't go without saying - that many of those who 'represent' the 'neighborhood' don't live there. They have nothing more than a business or employee interest. Five o'clock and they are off to home in their neighborhood.
And one cannot fail to notice that the Old Town Chinatown Neighborhood Association is a nothing more than a tool for social services and bar owners to assure development of Old Town in their image. Ironically, instead of "neither the twain shall meet" social services (broad definition) and the bar and strip clubs fit together quite well. One has the days and the other has the nights.
Old Town is not a neighborhood and it appears that it never will be thanks to the many who developed an excellent vision plan for the area then promptly used it to wipe their asses. Old Town's reputation as a dumping ground continues unabated. Instead of fulfilling the promises of urban renewal - the city is actively and aggressively building the dump.
See my columns on Old Town in my blog that I published on oregonlive. An example: Old Town Visions Committee Review. Another: Old Town Visions - self analysis.