‘Park party’ in Gateway demonstrates hope for future development

While the vacant land hardly looks like a park now, see why volunteers held a delightful summertime event on the property that neighbors hope will – someday – become Gateway’s first park …

Many area organizations provide entertainment for kids, and information for adults, at the Gateway Park celebration.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The vacant land on which once stood JJ North’s Chuckwagon Buffet and a disused bingo hall may someday become a Portland City Park.

To see stories about the planning process, see these exclusive East Portland News stories:

“Neighbors make wish list for new public park” CLICK HERE to open it; or

“Preferred alternative revealed for proposed Gateway Park” CLICK HERE to open that story.

Lauren and Lauri Shindler and Chloe Peterson say they’re having fun visiting with exhibitors at the party.

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz spends a few minutes talking with the event’s organizer, Linda Robinson.

When the City gets funding to build out the new Gateway Park, it will include amenities making it the perfect spot for neighborhood fairs, Movies in the Park showings, and other gatherings.

To give neighbors a foretaste, a group of neighborhood volunteers held the “Party in Gateway Park” on August 9 – delayed from the original July 13 date that was rained out.

Outer East Portland volunteer parks advocate Linda Robinson, the organizer of the party, said, “We put on this event because we need things for families to do together here in the greater Gateway area. We especially wanted to have the games and activities, so people aren’t just sitting around looking at each other. Tonight, they’re mingling, having fun, and getting to know one another.”

Gateway Area Business Associaton Keystone Kop Brad Sanchez makes sure that area businessman David Panichello “stays in line”.

As Ahnalya De Leeuw tries out the bicycle skills course, her dad, Lee, provides a steadying hand.

As soon as ChaCha the Clown starts twisting balloons, a line quickly gathers.

Robinson smiled as she saw more folks arriving, ready to spend the evening, capped off by a Movies in the Park showing at dusk. “We have lots of free or inexpensive things here to do here. It’s community building.”

In addition to many activities geared for kids, the party also hosted booth space for neighborhood and community organizations to show off the services they provide and make neighborhood connections.

“This is a future city park,” Robinson told us. “Right now it’s a vacant lot – but we have a Portland Parks & Recreation Master Plan. I look forward to when it’s graded, seeded, and ready to use. Hopefully over the next few years, it will be developed into a full-fledged park.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz looked pleased as she talked with others at the celebration. “It’s wonderful to see this park area with some grass on it, at least.”

It looks as if Kaeden Hansen enjoys his time playing in this sand box.

Bass player Jim Miller, a regular in the Jim Mesi Band and Mike Horsfall of Tall Jazz on vibraphone lay down some really cool jazz, perfect for a warm summer evening.

Later, speaking to the assembled folks from the stage, Fritz added, “We’re investing money in this park. We’re hoping it will be a ‘real’ park, as well as the space we have now. This is happening because we [at the Portland City Council] care about you here in the Gateway area, and in the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Concluding her remarks, Fritz encouraged, “ Check out your neighborhood associations in Woodland Park, Hazlewood, and Parkrose Heights. They’re made up of a great bunch of volunteers who are working hard to improve your neighborhoods. These are folks who care a lot about your community; they would really like to see you at their next meeting.”

Columbia State Bank, Woodland Park, and the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association were major sponsors for the party, made possible, in part with an East Portland Neighborhood Small Grant from Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement.

Folks set their chairs and spread blankets, reserving a spot for the showing of “Yogi Bear”.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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