By Rob Cullivan | CNews Editor
A group of Concordia residents discussed working to create a community center, at a Feb. 13 meeting at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, 6700 NE 29th Ave.
Hosted by Pastor Ike Harris, a Concordia Neighborhood Association board member, the group of nine folks engaged in a wide-ranging discussion with Portland Public School District and Family Liaison Jeff Wiser about possible uses for a plot of land on Northeast 42nd Avenue, next to Fernhill Park, where both John Adams High School, then Whitaker Middle School, once stood.
Wiser stressed he attended the meeting in an informal capacity to help attendees discuss their concerns and was not formally representing the school district.
Questions to be answered include how a possible center would fit in with the school district’s proposed use for it as an athletic hub. In 2021, the district issued its Long Range Facility Plan and designated the Whitaker-Adams site, as it’s called, a potential site for athletic facilities for area schools.
Harris noted his vision for a center could include services for both area seniors and youngsters. He added that he would like to work with Clarence Larkins, a longtime Cully activist, who has also proposed building a community center on the site. Larkins’ proposal for P.O. Black Family Village, a multiuse center, was detailed in the February 2023 edition of CNews.
Larkins was unable to attend the meeting. “I feel if we join forces … it could be a perfect fit,” Harris said of Larkins’ vision.
Ideas discussed at the Feb. 13 meeting included surveying area residents and civic groups in the various neighborhoods around the site about what they would like to see happen. Wiser noted that if the attendees create a formal proposal, interested residents could schedule a time to speak before the Portland school board, both at a public meeting as well as in one specifically set up to discuss their concerns.
On a related note, the Concordia Neighborhood Association is currently drafting a letter on behalf of itself and other area organizations to discuss the future of the site. CNews plans on covering the progress of the letter, as well as other efforts related to a possible community center, in an upcoming issue.
The group plans to hold another public meeting at St. Michael’s at 5:30 p.m., Monday, March 13.