Did city commissioners have it right two weeks ago when they told me a deal was in the works with Mayor Charlie Hales to preserve $1.2 million for a sidewalk project on SE 136th and find other safety solutions for a stretch of 136th nearby where a 5-year-old girl was hit and killed while crossing the street?
Seems so. The mayor's office has called a press conference at 8 am Wednesday morning out near SE 136th and Holgate, in Gates Park to "discuss plans related to safety."
I asked Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes, if the announcement would deviate from what I'd first reported, way back on March 20—safety improvements beyond restoring the sidewalk project. But he declined to comment.
"We’ll hold pat until Wednesday morning," he emailed.
The idea of cutting the sidewalks came as part of the Bureau of Transportation's hunt for street-paving money. In last month's post, three commissioners, Steve Novick, Dan Saltzman, and Nick Fish, all said to expect a restoration. Novick said he was "confident" council had enough votes to force the issue. Saltzman said that wouldn't be necessary, because Hales was already on board. Fish went further and said additional work—because the sidewalk project is planned for a few blocks from where Morgan Maynard-Cook was killed—would be part of the bargain.
"I think they'll go hand in glove," Fish said.
Haynes might not be commenting now. But he was blunt about his boss's thoughts on the sidewalk project after the commissioners had their say.
“Toby Widmer did what the mayor asked him to do: Sharpen the pencil; be creative," says Dana Haynes, Hales' spokesman, responding to questions about the planned sidewalk project. "Some of his proposals are worth pursuing. But as we’ve all heard the mayor say: We’re not pursuing that one.”
(For what it's worth, Willamette Week is also citing PBOT sources whose info confirms my previous post.)