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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

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Read Marti's Story

The power of community

Kenton Park is a second home for many families in the growing North Portland neighborhood. Like every home, renovations are often needed in order to accommodate a family’s changing needs. In this case, Kenton Park’s playground needed an update to better serve its community. The equipment was outdated, inaccessible, and in disrepair. 

Marti Clemmons and her family live very close to the park, which they visit at least once a day. Marti represented the Kenton Neighborhood Association throughout the playground renovation design process. At two open house events, she shared input from parents she spoke with at the playground who weren’t able to attend the meetings.

“What was impressive about those early-stage meetings is that everyone was involved and given the time to be heard,” she says. “This included hearing the children’s ideas. As a community, we were able to pick what we liked or didn’t like about each design.”

Many of those ideas are now a reality. Kids seek adventure on the nature-based timber play structure every day. They scramble up, down, and along staggered timber logs, scale up and down a rope climber, and make their way up to a tower before exiting down a big slide, only to run back and do it all over again. Large chimes give them a chance to create music for all to enjoy, and swings let them soar high to take it all in.

Marti notes some of the amenities grownups had asked for. “I am thrilled at the many benches and picnic tables to sit and watch the community interact with one another.“ She points out the addition of a drinking fountain and raves, “How great is it that we don’t have to walk all the way to the other side of the park to get a drink of water?”

Marti praises the overall design process. “It seemed like a perfect example of how I would like to see future neighborhood endeavors happen. What you see here is a direct outcome of the power of community working with city components to better the neighborhood. If you don’t feel like you are heard in the larger scheme of things or feel like you are not doing enough for your community, get involved, talk with your neighbors—because incredible things will happen.”

On the grand reopening day in September 2018, young park enthusiasts held a long red ribbon while Marti and her four-year-old daughter proudly wielded the ceremonial scissors. Together, they made the symbolic cut and the playground was once again open for the business of play.

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