Mayor Charlie Hales announced today that the city will provide support and oversight later this week for Last Thursday, despite the resignation of Friends of Last Thursday's board on Monday. The monthly gathering in the Alberta neighborhood has become increasingly controversial as rowdy attendees have fallen afoul of neighbors.
Here's the statement from mayoral spokesman Dana Haynes:
The City of Portland plans to go ahead with plans for Last Thursday, the once-per-month celebration of the arts community on Northeast Alberta Street between 15th and 30th Avenues.
The June event is set for this Thursday. It will run from 6 to 10 p.m. The two volunteer coordinators for Friends of Last Thursday both resigned on Monday, citing goals from the mayor's office regarding the number of volunteers, security personnel and portable bathrooms.
Lacking a volunteer coordinating body, just three days before the event, the city has opted to move forward. Agencies involved in Last Thursday include the mayor's office, Police, Fire & Rescue, Transportation, Development Services, and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, among others.
"The event is happening even if the volunteer board resigns," Mayor Charlie Hales said. "We will close off Alberta and we'll see how it goes. I'll be there to see for myself."
Leading up to the May event, the mayor's office laid out a number of goals for the volunteer coordinators, focusing on reaching the appropriate number of volunteers, security personal and portable bathrooms. The volunteers were unable to reach those goals. In response to that, the mayor's office suggested shrinking the time and size of the event: closing it at 9 p.m. rather than 10 p.m., and shrinking the "footprint" from 30th Avenue to 27th Avenue.
The volunteer coordinators resigned over those suggestions, calling them "onerous" and "unsavory."
"We can't pretend Last Thursday isn't happening," Hales said. "So we'll make the best of it this week, and make plans for July."
The city also will employ street-sweeping trucks after the 10 p.m. closure, to return Alberta Street to its usual state before the opening of business on Friday, and to encourage revelers to end.
Hales said he would reach out to the neighborhood associations, the business community and the city's Office of Neighborhood Involvement, to help craft a new volunteer coordinating committee for future Last Thursday events. That could happen as early as next week. "We don't know who will step up, but we'll be here to help them succeed," Hales said.