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Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-PLAY (7529)

Fax: 503-823-6007

1120 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 1302, Portland, OR 97204

Dawson Park Improvements

  • Water Feature | Courtesy of Studio

Enhance the park's appearance, safety, and site furnishings, while emphasizing its historic character. The project includes a new playground, interactive waterplay feature, barbeques, picnic tables, and benches, as well as improved lighting and accessibility. Funding:$2.3M Interstate Urban Renewal with support for the waterplay feature from Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, Portland Parks Foundation, and PP&R for a total of $2.6M.

Project Goals

  • Restore Dawson Park as a central neighborhood gathering place
  • Honor the park's history through public art
  • Increase diversity in contracting

Project Partners
Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland Development Commission (Interstate Corridor URA)

Project Managers
Sandra Burtzos, PP&R, 503-823-5594
Carol Herzberg, PDC, 503-823-3276


Spring 2011
Design of park and streetscape improvements begins; public meeting to present design options

Spring 2012
Design and construction documents process

Summer-Fall 2012
Building permit review process

Winter-Summer 2013
Construction project manager & construction contractor procurement processes

October 2013-June 2014

Summer 2014
Park is reopened



  • Installed tree protection fencing, erosion control systems, construction entrance, and temporary interior haul roads. The construction trailer and storage units are in place.
  • Removed and/or recycled items that will not be reused.
  • Pruned and removed trees for safety and health.


  • Installation of water, stormwater, and electrical facilities. As an environmental benefit, water from the water feature will be handled on-site. A 36-foot drywell sump and sedimentation manhole was dug to filter the water and keep it out of the sewer system.
  • Although this project requires careful and diligent work to protect the trees and their roots, the contractor has made good progress on the utilities and is currently ahead of schedule.

Coming Up Soon

  • Continue utility installation work.
  • Remove existing park path lights; the poles will be reinstalled with new energy efficient LED luminaires on top!
  • Continue demolition, grading, and preparation of some areas for paving.
  • Water feature utility installation work.

The park was acquired in 1921 and named for Rev. John Dawson, an advocate for child welfare and civic improvements in the 1920s. The park has received many additions and alterations through the years. In 2007, a master plan for the park was developed through a public process. As part of the public involvement process, a priority matrix was developed to prioritize the list of desired improvements. In 2008, the gazebo and historic dome were restored with urban renewal funding to highlight the historic nature of the dome and to improve the flexibility of the gazebo's use as a performance space.

A 2010 Intergovernmental Agreement between the Portland Development Commission and Portland Parks & Recreation provides funding for the design phase of the improvement project, led by PP&R. A 2013 Intergovernmental Agreement between the Portland Development Commission and Portland Parks & Recreation provides funding for the construction phase of the project, led by PDC. The funding is from the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area.

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