Possible closures cast a pall, but Woodstock area has a lot to celebrate

The Woodstock neighborhood may not have the kind of buzz that the Mississippi, Hawthorne or Alberta areas are getting, but there is a steady flow of customers to the eclectic mix of businesses along the boulevard

Along Southeast Woodstock Boulevard from 39th to 60th avenues, many of the businesses will celebrate their community this weekend by sponsoring the annual, daylong Woodstock Street Fair and Festival.

For the first time in years, a parade will kick off the event - this time featuring neighborhood resident Mayor Tom Potter as the grand marshal.

The festival also will feature sidewalk sales by local businesses, food prepared by local residents, children's events and live music.

The theme of this year's event is Flower Power, which signifies alternative energy and will include events featuring children dressed as windmills and the sun.

'Everything is geared toward crazy family fun for all ages,' event chairwoman Cristy Landers said.

But the area's popularity also is causing growing pains, said Ruthann Bedenkop, the Woodstock Neighborhood Association's communications committee chairwoman.

According to Bedenkop, many longtime residents are concerned about the large numbers of new homes being built on vacant and oversized lots in the existing residential areas.

'People are concerned about the impact all the additional houses are having on traffic, as well as the fact that some of them just don't fit in,' she said, in particular some of the new homes on very narrow lots.

The neighborhood also is concerned about the possible closures of Lewis Elementary School and the Woodstock Community Center, Bedenkop said.

The school, located at 4401 S.E. Evergreen St., is among five schools being considered for closure by the Portland school board.

The board has asked area residents to recommend by the end of the summer which of the five schools to close, a process many residents believe is unfair, Bedenkop said.

The community center already is at risk of closing in 2008. Portland Parks and Recreation had proposed closing it several years ago, but neighbors rallied and launched fundraising drives to keep it open.

But the city plans to reconsider the closure in two years and supporters do not know what will happen then, Bedenkop said.

Despite those issues, Bedenkop calls the Woodstock neighborhood a wonderful place to live, saying it has a real sense of community that justifies this Saturday's celebration.

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