What a shame. Washington-Monroe High School, the long-closed ghost ship in Southeast Portland, got spit-and-polished by the Red Cross for Katrina survivors who never came en masse. And Hurricane Rita's evacuees are returning to their flooded homes, instead of coming to Portland. So the defunct high school sits empty and clean, just waiting to serve the public good.
The Nose has a few ideas for the building:
Turn it into a smoking palace for those nicotine-hungry TriMet riders who have now been banned from the bus shelters. We could even change the name WaMo to Marlboro.
Convert the mopped-up gym into a walking track for suburbanites. Since a recent study shows fat people tend to like living in the 'burbs (see Winners & Losers, page 7), invite the maxi-moms from Beaverton into Southeast, charge them membership for the Washington-Monroe Community Health Impoundment Center, and let them waddle to their hearts' content. Really want to be creative? Hook them up to treadmills, and voilà, Portland gets its own source of green power. Are you listening, Erik Sten?
Use the library to store those hundreds of impactful reports (Portland 2020, The Sequel) sure to be churned out by Mayor Tom Potter's ballyhooed "visioning project." Although they may have to build a new annex.
Dedicate a classroom to teach personal finance to all those high schoolers getting drafted by the Blazers. Use another classroom as a counseling center for grieving Oregon and Oregon State football fans.
Turn the place into a retraining center for all those laid-off and fleeing staffers of the Portland Trib. Or make it a museum to the psychedelic '60s by using The Oregonian's boxes with their multicolored O! as the centerpiece relic.
Make the school an actual apartment complex that offers no-condo guarantees for Portlanders weary of getting their places condo-converted.
Fill the building with water and give City Commissioner Dan Saltzman the covered reservoir he has always wanted. Use the reservoir as a holding tank for all the political sharks that seem to be circling the bloody carcass of Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
An off-site casino for the Confederated Tribes of Hosford-Abernethy!
Three little compound words: Big-ass wi-fi hotspot.
Instead of turning meth-heads back on the streets, release them into Washington-Monroe, where they'll have one contained space to cook their stuff rather than being scattered throughout the city.
The Nose doesn't much care which of these ideas gets done. He just hates to see one more taxpayer-funded building standing idle. After all, we already have the Wapato jail.