Much was discussed at this week’s DCNA meeting. The following is a summary of news and information.
About 20 neighbors were in attendance, as well as invited representatives from the City of Portland’s Police Department and Planning and Development Division.
The agenda for the evening included:
- • Introductions;
• A Presentation and Report by Officer Karl Geib and colleagues on Crime in the Neighborhood and the Neighborhood Crimewatch Program;
• A Presentation by Alex Jaegerman, the Division Director for the City Planning and Development Division, about Understanding our Neighborhood Zoning Laws, and the Role of Neighborhood Associations in Affecting Planning;
• Final Sharing/ Discussion.
Harold Crabill welcomed everyone to the meeting, and introduced Naomi Mermin, the representative for the traffic committee, as the facilitator for the evening. At Naomi’s suggestion, all present introduced themselves and shared what streets they lived on.
Presentation from the Portland Police Department by Office Geib and Colleagues
Officer Geib, two other neighborhood officers, and two representatives from the PD’s department of Community Services presented data on crime in the neighborhood and answered neighbors questions about how the police department serves Deering Center.
In spite of a number of high profile incidents in the neighborhood, general crime rates are not up compared with data from recent years. The character of crimes in Deering Center and Portland as a whole, however, is changing. Office Geib described increases in high risk, low gain burglaries which the police department attributes to growing use of crack in Maine. Car burglaries throughout the city are up as well.
The department encouraged neighbors to keep cars and houses locked, and to be in contact with the department with any concerns via 911. 911, we were told, is not reserved for emergencies only.
An overview of policing in the neighborhood was provided. Deering Center is at an intersection of several police beats. The officers keep beat assignments for extended periods so it is possible to get to know the officers who work in our neighborhood.
When asked about how the neighborhood can request police presence at busy times or times when many children are walking to school, officer Geib suggested that the DCNA could lobby for such a presence and would likely be successful.
Neighbors expressed concerns about traffic speed, especially in regard to high school drivers. Officer Geib directed us to call Sgt. Gary Hutchinson (874-8532) with traffic issues.
Rebecca Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org), Community Service Coordinator for the PPD, provided information on Neighborhood Crime Watch. Naomi Mermin offered to review the evening’s surveys to gauge interest in exploring the crime watch program for our neighborhood or in future DCNA meetings.
Presentation by Alex Jaegerman, the Division Director for the City Planning and Development Division
Mr. Jaegerman congratulated the DCNA for successfully organizing and influencing the city planning process in regard to the recent amendments to the B-1 and B-1b zoning restrictions. He expressed his support for the civic process which empowers citizens to help shape policy and development. He offered an overview of the City Planning and Development Division and encouraged the association to remain attentive and active.
Mr. Jaegerman provided several handouts: the Amendment to the City Code Chapter 14 regarding neighborhood zones; the documentation provided to the city councilors relevant to traffic counts, etc. that informed the councilors’ decisions; and several individual copies of documents describing the city transportation plan, as well as the comprehensive development plan for Portland.
Mr. Jaegerman presented and explained a map which catalogues the different zones in Portland. He reported that Deering Center is a mature neighborhood with little risk of substantial development with the exception of double lots which currently have only one unit.
He encouraged the DCNA to remain attentive to upcoming Planning Board issues and reported that the agendas, etc. are available on-line. He especially encouraged DCNA to remain informed about the Housing Committee.
In regard to questions about how DCNA can best influence development plans, he encouraged us to communicate through our city councilors.
Final Sharing / Discussion
The evening concluded with an informal discussion among neighbors. Amy Bell Segal, who is the representative for the Open Spaces committee, reported on conversations she had had with the city arborist regarding Deering Pines and Baxter Woods. It was agreed that more time would be dedicated at the next meeting to understanding these issues.
Several neighbors spoke about how working as a community to affect zoning policy had been uplifting and energizing. More than one person spoke positively about being connected on line.
The leadership of DCNA provided information about the new website for the association (dcna.wordpress.org). They shared feedback they had received: that the conversational nature of the Yahoo Group service was not meeting people’s needs and was, in several cases, discouraging people from using the service. To address this concern, official business of the association would now be available at this site. The expectation is that the Yahoo Group might continue, though not in any official relationship to DCNA.
Several neighbors expressed concern about improving the neighborhood’s relationship with Joey Pompeo. It was hoped that Mr. Pompeo would attend the meeting. The neighbors expressed a desire to help find a renter for Mr. Pompeo’s property. The DCNA agreed to stay engaged in developing mutual trust and good will among the neighborhood and Mr. Pompeo.
The last comments of the evening came from a neighbor who shared that he would be meeting with Mr. Pompeo this week to discuss putting in a natural grill restaurant. Everyone left the meeting very hungry.
Please leave comments regarding anything that may have been left out from these minutes. We will make corrections and additions at our next steering meeting. We apologize in advance if we do not get back to you concerning comments. We are just getting started and the holidays are keeping us quite busy.
— Submitted by David Grant, Brentwood St.