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July 2nd, 2014 WW Editorial Staff | Letters to the Editor
 

Inbox: OMSI’s Land Development

     
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I’m writing on behalf of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry regarding the article “Science and Industry” [WW, June 18, 2014]. Thank you for covering this important effort to shape the future of the Central Eastside. OMSI has been part of the community for 70 years, and during that time we have been a valued “science” resource for families with children. Some of this has been at our museum on Southeast Water Avenue. Much more has been delivered across Oregon and six other states through the country’s largest museum-based residential camp and educational outreach program.

As our name indicates, we have also had a long history of “industry.” For more than 50 years, OMSI has designed and manufactured exhibitions that have been shipped to 1,240 clients in 23 countries. These exhibitions have been seen by millions of people and have sustained jobs at OMSI and for a variety of subconsultants in Portland and elsewhere. We are more than a museum. We share a common history in industry with our neighbors. We are also a major employer in Portland’s eastside, with a staff of 200 employees and 600 volunteers.

We are experimenting with new approaches to “industry” that support 21st-century skill building, job creation and long-term economic growth. We are now home to Oregon Story Board, a nonprofit business accelerator and co-work space dedicated to support and mentor the next generation of digital storytellers in fields such as game design, app development and filmmaking.

For the past two years, we have been an active participant in the city of Portland’s 2035 planning process as well as Station Area Planning sessions while making many presentations to neighborhood and civic organizations. At dozens of public meetings, we have shared our hopes and plans with city planners, neighbors, architects and others. There is no secret—our belief is that a mixed-use designation will allow for the most sustainable development. This applies to 22 acres owned by OMSI as well as the larger district between 99E and the Willamette River.

Owners representing 70 percent of the land in our immediate neighborhood have come out publicly in support of this. Together, we want to create an iconic destination district for the city that celebrates all that is Portland. This includes some appropriately scaled residential uses as well as a variety of industrial uses. We also envision greater access to the river and green spaces for the public to enjoy. Why the need for residential? We believe that to keep an area vibrant at all hours, you need people living there. It is simply a part of a bigger ecosystem that we hope to create, certainly not the defining feature, as your article suggests.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, OMSI is not a developer. We are involved in the public process precisely because we want development in this area to be the result of a careful, considered and integrated approach that leverages sizable public investments in transport infrastructure and supports both our mission and the community in which we live.

Mark Patel,
OMSI vice president for marketing

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR must include the author’s street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words.
Submit to: 2220 NW Quimby St., Portland, OR 97210.
Fax: (503) 243-1115. Email: mzusman@wweek.com.

 
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