With the prodigious amount of rain we've had this past winter and spring, it is not surprising that the mammoth mud puddle, dubbed "Lake Carlton" by neighbors several years ago, is back. This large body of water reappears every winter on S.E. Carlton Street between 44th and 45th Avenues in the Woodstock neighborhood.
In early April, Lake Carlton had offspring – five mini-ponds extending eastward, one of which served as the floating home of two Mallard ducks, who had undoubtedly found their way there from the Rhododendron Gardens. At the end of any long rainy period, the lake is about fifteen feet in diameter and about a foot deep. When the sun comes out from behind the clouds, the lake and ponds diminish in size – but they're always back within just a few rainy days.
But, in fact, it IS surprising that Lake Carlton has returned. When its history is reviewed, we remember that measures were taken six years ago to fill and "fix" the lake once and for all.
In 2012 THE BEE published an article entitled "Lake Carlton Is Gone" – because in 2011 the unimproved roadway was graded and graveled with the hope that the lake would become just a memory. The work was made possible by a $2,000 grant through the Inner Southeast neighborhood coalition "Southeast Uplift", plus the in-kind contributions of volunteers and neighbors. The mud "ponds" were gone, and the edges of the street were naturescaped by adjacent neighbors. But, as is now obvious, the "lake" came back.
At this point, what the City of Portland might do about these cavernous holes in the street is as clear as mud.
And in conversation with neighbors about the stretch of potholes, we found opinions vary. From residential neighbors a fairly consistent message has been, "Don't pave them". However, a similarly muddy, "pond-holed" stretch on S.E. Martins between 43rd and 44th, behind the Woodstock Tan and Liquor building, is deemed unacceptable by the affected businesses.
An employee of Woodstock Tan says of the huge potholes, "I hate it. They're awful. People have tried to fill them with yard debris. It just makes it worse." The business owners and some neighbors would like to see that portion paved with angled parking.
A full road improvement constructed by the City, called a Local Improvement District, or LID, would be prohibitively expensive for most adjacent property owners and would include sidewalks and curbs that most neighbors don't seem to want. There is a less expensive option from the city which would provide asphalt paving without the sidewalks and curbs, but it still would require an LID. Woodstock is thought by many to be ground zero for unfinished streets in Inner Southeast Portland – a city with over 60 miles of such streets.
Nance Schaefle, who lives next to the ponds and Lake Carlton at 45th says, "We do love the water being here for the ducks and adventuresome bicyclists. We feed the Mallards who stop by regularly for a snack."
Jessie, who lives behind the Joinery would not like to see that section of S.E. Martins paved. "Cars would be flying by," she observed.
Beth Riley, who lives on the corner of S.E. Martins and 42nd says, "I do not want a paved street, especially with all of the children in the neighborhood."
Mark Ripkey, who lives on the same corner of Martins, is considering a community project that would create bike and pedestrian pathways. With the opening of the New Seasons Market in Woodstock, the amount of foot traffic there has quadrupled. And, currently, biking on Woodstock Boulevard is more difficult and even dangerous because of the recently increased traffic.
If the city were to designate the unimproved right of way to allow neighbors, in cooperation with the city, to make bike and pedestrian paths on these pot-holed streets, that could possibly lead to improved safety for those want to travel east or west without using motorized vehicles.