Revenue from Development to Fund Improvements at Leach Botanical Garden and Clatsop Butte Park
(Portland, OR) –
Representatives from City Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s office and Portland Parks & Recreation staff announced at the East Portland Action Plan meeting tonight (Wednesday, October 22) that Commissioner Fritz has allocated more than $1 million in revenue from System Development Charges to fund improvements at Leach Botanical Garden and Clatsop Butte Park. These Portland Parks & Recreation properties are the latest east Portland park sites designated for improvements by Commissioner Fritz. In 2014, Fritz and Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) Director Mike Abbaté have announced approximately $22M in investments in east Portland parks (please see attached summary document for details). From 2009 through September 2014, PP&R has dedicated approximately $31.2M in System Development Charges to provide parks facilities in east Portland.
Revenue from System Development Charges (SDCs), which is collected as fees on new construction rather than tax dollars, will fund the major improvements at Leach Botanical Garden as well as modest interim facilities at Clatsop Butte Park. SDCs are fees paid by developers to support the increased civic infrastructure required when new homes and businesses are built. By state law, SDCs can only be used to expand capacity, not to fix existing parks facilities or to fund operational services.
The SDC investment at Leach Botanical Garden includes approximately $1M in improvements, including Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access, to areas including the upper garden at the regional Leach attraction, located off SE Foster Road in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood. Pedestrian and vehicle access projects will be prioritized. The specific projects will be determined in partnership with the non-profit Leach Garden Friends. Portland Development Commission (PDC) is partnering by contributing additional funds of up to $1.1M towards the upper garden’s project design and construction over the next five years. PDC has already contributed approximately $150,000 in schematic design work. On Friday, Portland Parks & Recreation expects to acquire more property for the garden to display plants native to the Northwest, but from remote parts of the region. The additional 1.36 acres will give more people the opportunity to experience botanical treasures, to take classes, and to participate in events in a setting apart from the bustle of urban life, according to Leach Botanical Garden Executive Director David Porter.
“The improvements at Leach Botanical Garden will make significant improvements to a beautiful garden; and will be enjoyed by individuals and families from around the region, and especially those who live in East Portland", says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté. "Removing barriers that enhance access for people with disabilities in the historic Leach Botanical Garden is another way to make sure all Portlanders can enjoy this amazing garden gem."
“Leach Botanical Garden is a unique botanical and cultural attraction,” says Leach Garden Friends’ board president, Linda Morrow. “We represent the character of the Pacific Northwest realized through plants, water, art and discovery. This support from Commissioner Fritz through Portland Parks & Recreation is an important step to carrying on the legacy of east Portland civic leaders, John and Lilla Leach, who were visionary in giving their botanical garden to be a public space of respite and beauty.”
The Clatsop Butte Park project provides an opportunity to enhance a park site atop a butte in east Portland, at SE 152nd Ave & Belmore St. (also in the Pleasant Valley community), with views of downtown Portland, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mount St. Helens. Portland Parks & Recreation will begin improvements on the 43-acre Clatsop Butte property by developing an interim wood chip trail, benches and signage to encourage neighborhood enjoyment of this important east Portland asset until funds are available to build out the Master Plan developed with the community. Approximately $100,000 in SDC funds will provide improvements primarily benefiting an estimated 178 nearby households. Construction is expected to begin in October 2014, with completion before the end of the year.
About parks in east Portland
East Portland was incorporated into the city of Portland later than many other areas. Two out of every five households in this part of town do not have easy access to a City of Portland park, 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. The east Portland area has experienced significant population growth, and now 40% of Portland’s families with children live in east Portland. Demand for recreational services is high, and closing this “play gap” is a priority for Portland Parks & Recreation and Commissioner Fritz.