The Providence Empire Looms Large

On Sunday, I walked from my home in Laurelhurst to visit friends at the very sweet, European-style Rosegate condominiums on NE Halsey. With sun pouring down, we were shaded by the magnificent tulip tree living center stage in the courtyard. We filled our plates and glasses and found seats at the tables scattered on the lawn.

As we visited and celebrated a birthday, the idyllic scene so completely entranced me that I nearly forgot I was near Providence. That is, until I looked up from my southward facing vantage point to see the Providence Office Park, looming over us and blocking the sky. Inside my heart, I paused to mourn. I had witnessed what an awful ordeal my friends at Rosegate suffered through during the construction of the office park and I feel a growing concern that we are in for more of the same on our side of I-84.

It caused me to reflect, do we really know Providence’s plans for the foreseeable future? It might seem like we do with the current 10-year review, but I’d suggest we haven’t got the faintest idea and that it’s time for us to learn.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. The best thing that has happened for me during this process of investigating and understanding what is happening with Providence, is that I’m meeting some a-mazing folks. Neighbors are stepping up and voicing opinions, loud enough to be heard. Neighbors are staying engaged with the public process. Neighbors are working for streets that are safe and friendly for our kids, our parents, and our dogs.

I’m slowly forming some alliances with other neighbors who seem not-so-close to us, but who share a border with Providence and the same conviction that enough is enough. Four neighborhood associations border Providence (Hollywood, Laurelhurst, North Tabor, and Rose City Park), but we are divided, physically and psychologically, by Providence itself.

Regardless of how the Hearings Officer rules in June (public comments are still being taken until May 30), the significant impacts of Providence doing business in our neighborhood will still be unacceptable. It is long past time for Providence to consider how they might be a good neighbor. And, it is time for us to help them understand how they can do so.

It could also be that it is time . . . time for us to come out of the shadows of our porches and gaze upward. It’s time to make sure that we don’t have our skies blocked out and our privacy invaded and our streets so completely over-run with cars that we give up and head for the hills or, worse yet, suffer in silence.

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