Landmarks Commission reaches Madeleine lights decision
Last month the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission formally voted on a position regarding exterior lighting on the west side of the Madeleine Parish school and church. They unanimously voted to allow the lights to remain on newer additions to the buildings, with the addition of metal hoods to reduce glare for nearby residences, but called for removal of lights on the historic, 1927 original building at 3123 N.E. 24th Ave.
At a hearing in November, Commission members indicated they supported this decision. However, they strongly urged the parish and the Irvington Community Association, which had called for the lights’ removal, to meet and seek a mutual agreement. Last month ICA land use chair Dean Gisvold told the Commission that a meeting was held and he thought an agreement had been reached, only to be informed by letter that Madeleine wanted to retain all its lights. A neighbor, Eric Cobmiller, said, “I though the meeting went very well. Apparently the church didn’t feel comfortable saying what they really felt.”
Father Mike of Madeleine told the Commission, “I still feel the safety, protection and well-being of the children and neighbors is being compromised. My years in the Air Force taught me to be vigilant for the safety of the people entrusted in my care.” There have been signs of criminal activity on or near the property in the past, he said, and without proper lighting “It’s difficult to tell the identity of people walking down the street.” He added, “This isn’t an isolated home with a porch light; the traffic into the building is immense.”
Asked by Commission member Harris Matarazzo why he hadn’t spoken up at the meeting with Irvington he said, “I participated by showing up and listening. I understand how they’d believe an agreement was reached, but it was not.”
Showing some irritation, Matarazzo said, “Time is irreplaceable, and an opportunity was lost.”
Father Mike also said that the parish will undertake a $2.5 million remodel of its facilities starting in June.
Landmarks Commission favors Washington historic status
Also last month the Landmarks Commission unanimously endorsed the nomination of the former Washington High School building to the National Registry of Historic Places. The nomination was made by Brian Nelson of Venerable Properties, which last year purchased the 1927 structure at 519 S.E. 14th Ave. from the Portland School District, and is seeking to convert it to housing. The project had been undertaken by Venerable Properties’ founder, the late Art DeMuro. Nelson later told the Star that a specific plan for the building’s renovation is “still a long ways off.”