At annual meeting, MNA lists achievements, adds three new board members

All five neighbors who wanted to serve the Montavilla Neighborhood Association board were affirmed in an election Monday night, with three new members added.

The board is still hoping to find a neighbor who can fill the Public Safety committee chairmanship.

Nineteen neighbors were present at Montavilla United Methodist Church, including board members and those who didn’t meet voting requirements. Board chair Michael Sonnleitner joked that attendance was high quality if not high quantity.

After listing the MNA’s long list of achievements in the 2016 Annual Report and before the vote, the five neighbors, who are now board members with two-year terms, introduced themselves.

The three new members are: Nick Mira is an architect who has been in the neighborhood since 2009. He said he wants to work on land use and transportation issues. Justine Scannell is a mother of two who said it’s important to teach her children to know and be invested in their community. Jenny Shaver, a mother of a Vestal Elementary student, said she is finishing up a degree at Portland State University and wants to use what she learned to help with housing and homeless issues.

Returning board member Victoria Swink got involved to help clean up an abandoned (or zombie) home near hers. The house was sold just recently, she was happy to report. Paula Funatake has been on the board for a year, and said she wanted to continue to work on communications, after working on transportation previously.

After the election, the board assigned board members roles:

Benjamin Kerensa, Board Chair
Michael Sonnleitner, Vice Chair
Justine Scannell, Secretary
Elaine Hakala, Treasurer
Nick Mira, Land Use & Transportation Chair
Jennifer Tamayo, SEUL Delegate

Highlights of the MNA Annual Report include:

MNA participated in over 17 meetings about Public Safety and provided a resource for neighbors to learn about crime prevention and reporting. A few neighborhood cleanups were organized, and the board dedicated over 300 hours of engagement with neighbors and public safety partners.

In Communications, through social media, word of mouth, and print, the MNA said they connected with 10,000 to 15,000 residents in 2016. Pretty good for a neighborhood of 16,000, Sonnleitner noted. The MNA hosted multiple meetings around Land Use & Transportation concerning infill, historical preservation, and development.

The third year of the Montavilla Jazz Fest raised over $15,000 in revenue, using that money to make donations to the music programs of Madison and Franklin High School and Vestal Elementary School. The MNA also raised money through the National Night Out, Neighborhood Recycling Event, and Burgerville Fundraiser Night.

The MNA also advocated for the protection of a historic house on SE Alder St, and led dialogue between neighbors and the developer. The board also advocated for the continuing of a literacy program at Portland Community College and weighed in on transportation and public safety issues.

Sonnleitner, who is a retired PCC political science professor, said the board is creating a strategic plan and he said he hopes the board will be far more functional in the year ahead. They’re also planning a board retreat.

A neighbor who identified himself as Greg asked the board to do better outreach to the neighbors who don’t come to the meetings. Sonnleitner said even though the board has meetings, events, a Facebook page, and does advertising, only about 100 neighbors are signed up. Ben Kerensa, vice chair, added that the board is doing more networking with other organizations including Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon and the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association.

Neighbor Louise Hoff, who volunteered with the Jazz Fest, said that in a recent meeting a representative from Southeast Uplift and organization said Montavilla is one of the most active neighborhood associations among the 20 they cover.

MNA meetings are generally held on the second Monday of the month, according to the bylaws.

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