PORTLAND -- Last Thursday on Alberta Street will be without its volunteer leaders this week, after the nonprofit group Friends of Last Thursday resigned as a protest over city requirements for managing the big and sometimes controversial arts festival.
A press release sent by the Mayor's Office Tuesday said the City will still go ahead with plans for Last Thursday and that it will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
"The event is happening even if the volunteer board resigns," said Mayor Hales. "We will close off Alberta and we'll see how it goes. I'll be there to see for myself."
Hales said he would reach out to neighborhood organizations and the business community to help create a new volunteer committee for the event.
"We don't know who will step up, but we'll be there to help them succeed," said Hales.
On Monday, Friends of Last Thursday said it could no longer meet the demands set by the office of Mayor Charlie Hales, including permit requirements.
Friends of Last Thursday said in a statement that the “most egregious of these demands” was that the event should end by 9 p.m.
City officials proposed reducing the number of blocks included in the event, reopening Alberta by 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m., and having street sweeping crews come in immediately after the reopening of the street.
In the past few years, the street was closed in the evening and didn’t reopen until 10 p.m.
“We will also not be a party to the 9:00 p.m. event closure and street reopening with the use of street sweepers using pressurized water hoses,” said Maquette Reeverts, who has served as the events coordinator for the nonprofit volunteer group. She also works at an art gallery on Alberta, and performs at Last Thursday.
The mayor’s office sent its communications director to the press conference. Dana Haynes said the city isn’t demanding anything, but does think downsizing the event is in order if organizers cannot get enough volunteers to help and porta-potties for people to use.
The event has developed a reputation at times as a rowdy street party where drinking and drugs are a part of the equation. And some neighbors complain their yards are being used for bathrooms and other inappropriate acts.
The Concordia Neighborhood Association continues to have concerns.
“We have some members who are directly affected by those kinds of things and drug use, that are very unhappy and very frustrated,” said vice chairman Randy Chambers, who adds that in her opinion, the event has gotten better in terms of neighborhood impact.
This coming Last Thursday event at this point has no volunteer leadership, and has left Friends of Last Thursday with a bad feeling about City Hall.
“This administration has chosen to ignore our volunteer effort. They’ve chosen to ignore our expertise and all of the experience we’ve gathered on how to make this event work,” said Friends of Last Thursday Logistics Coordinator Jeff Hilber, who resigned Monday.
City officials said the rules were not set in stone and that city leaders were open to working with organizers on a compromise.
The Mayor's Office confirmed Monday that the City would close Alberta Street on Thursday, June 27 between 15th and 30th Avenues for Last Thursday and reopen at 10 p.m. with street sweepers.
“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.”