Beech Park, Gateway Park & Plaza to Enhance Underserved Area, Families; Even More Parks Coming Soon; Challenges Remain
Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), and Portland Development Commission (PDC) announce plans for building two new parks in east Portland, a traditionally underserved area of the city. PP&R will begin final design this year on both Beech Park (approximately 16 acres off NE 126th Ave & Beech St.) and Gateway Park & Plaza (four acres off NE Halsey St between NE 104th & 106th Aves) with construction on both parks scheduled to begin in early 2016.
City Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz delivered the news to other city and community leaders on Thursday, January 30, at the future site of Gateway Park & Plaza. The celebration continued at Shaver Elementary School (Parkrose school district), where Fritz told jubilant students that their school will soon be next to a sparkling new park. Portland Park Rangers were on hand to “deputize” kids as Youth Rangers and to distribute stickers. (Video here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zExIaKfkqk)
”In east Portland, two out of every five households do not have easy access to a City park. That is in stark contrast to the rest of Portland where four out of every five households live within a half-mile of a park or natural area,“ says Fritz, who designated Beech and Gateway Park & Plaza for development after careful consideration of community input. Commissioner Fritz considered four worthy park options that were ready to build in east Portland – those with completed master plans. “This is a significant step in addressing historic inequities in parks in east Portland,” adds Fritz. "All over Portland, people are telling me, 'provide parks for people who don’t have one'. There are inequities in every neighborhood, and insufficient resources to correct them all. These two projects begin to correct the disparities in east Portland."
“Both of these much-needed new parks will open access to vital public green spaces for families who need and deserve them,” says Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, who along with Commissioners Fritz, Fish, and Novick attended the announcement ceremony. “I laud Portland Parks & Recreation and Commissioner Fritz’s leadership on these important projects, and I want to single out in particular the Portland Development Commission’s $1 million contribution towards Gateway Park and Plaza. PDC’s partnership will help revitalize the commercial appeal and livability of the Gateway neighborhood.”
Fast Facts on Beech Park:
- Adjacent to Shaver Elementary School in the Parkrose School District, in the Argay neighborhood of NE Portland. It will feature grand views, a sports field and basketball court, accessible play and picnic areas, shelters, pedestrian and bike paths, parking, community gardens, and a fenced off-leash dog area.
-The park will serve nearly 965 new households which currently do not have ready access to a park. Data show that 49% of these households are ethnic minorities, and 23% are below the poverty level.
- Project cost is estimated at $7.7 million ($4.2 million, phase 1; $3.5 million, phase 2), from Parks System Development Charges (not General Fund tax dollars). You can learn more about this park plan here.
Fast Facts on Gateway Park & Plaza:
A partnership project with Portland Development Commission
-The four-acre park will become a “living room” for the Gateway neighborhood, featuring accessible spaces and activities for all ages, including a plaza ready to accommodate a variety of events, festivals, and farmers' markets. As envisioned in the Master Plan, the park will also include flexible green spaces to accommodate picnic areas, accessible playground features and nature play.
The park will serve more than 800 new households which currently do not have ready access to a park. Data show that 36% of these households are ethnic minorities, and 28% are below the poverty level.
Project cost is estimated at $4.7 million, from System Development Charges (not General Fund tax dollars). The Portland Development Commission (PDC) will be contributing $1 million for the improvements, and is recruiting private investment to develop a building on NE Halsey adjacent to the new park.
The news on new parks in east Portland is the first in a series of events in which Commissioner Fritz (and her fellow Commissioners), Portland Parks & Recreation and its Board, Portland Parks Foundation, neighborhood leaders and members of the Portland community share in the announcements of upcoming improvements throughout our parks system.
Fritz will be continuing to work with neighborhood parks committees in each one of Portland’s neighborhood coalitions and districts to get input on priorities.
Portland Parks & Recreation is able to invest in these new parks now because of dedicated funding from fees connected with new developments, known as System Development Charges.
As Portland Parks & Recreation commits to new parks in communities where none currently exist and to expanding other parks, many existing parks are at a crossroads. For decades operating funding has been cut or remained flat forcing PP&R to postpone rehabilitation and maintenance in every neighborhood throughout the city. PP&R has maintenance needs (http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/63265) totaling over $400 million. From aging playground replacements to leaking roofs, the list of needs is huge, and grows every year that we don’t address it. The beautiful parks we love to visit are being held together by thousands of volunteers and wonderful employees going above and beyond the call of duty.
The funding being used to create the two new parks in east Portland is restricted to expanding capacity only. It cannot be used to maintain or repair existing facilities. It is insufficient to address the hundreds of park projects needed by our rapidly growing neighborhoods – an additional need of $480 million.
Commissioner Fritz will close the event by saying “Investing in new parks now is the right thing to do. For more than a hundred years, Portlanders built our parks system through a series of legacy investments. Now, we don’t have funding for the needs in growing neighborhoods, nor for maintenance of existing facilities. It’s time for Portland to begin to think about what our legacy will be. Will it be a legacy of increased equity and increased commitment to our region’s uniquely beautiful parks and natural areas? I hope so.”