First park – ever – in Parkrose is dedicated

Discover what neighbors had to do – and how long they persisted – to finally get this beautiful little park built in the Parkrose neighborhood …

“One, two … “ Neighbors and City officials cut a ceremonial ribbon dedicating Senn’s Dairy Park in Parkrose.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It took a decade of wrangling, cajoling, niggling, and hard physical labor to turn a couple of lots worth of land into a new outer NE Portland public park.

But, on July 11, Parkrose neighbors gathered in that park, located on NE Prescott Street at 112th Avenue, and the one-acre park was officially dedicated.

Parks director: ‘City was wrong’
The first official to speak was Zari Santner, Director of Portland Parts & Recreation.

“All of you here have been involved in this project since its inception,” Santner began. “You know that it is taken almost a decade to get this done. It’s fair to say that when the community came to the city of Portland, and asked for this park to be developed, the city was not very enthusiastic about it.”

It took the tenacity and perseverance of many people in the neighborhood, Santner said – but particularly one person, Christine Charneski.

“The city was wrong; you were right,” Santner admitted. “This is a fantastic place for the neighborhood, for the community, for young children.  I salute your vision and your perseverance.”

Santner also made clear that it was the efforts of Joe Rossi who pressed the issue that it should be named Senn’s Dairy Park – instead of Prescott Park as the city officials originally desired.

“In addition to having a park here, another thing that came from this is that the City learned from this process,” Santner noted. “We learned we need to have a process in place that allows citizens to come up with ideas, and we could be responsive to those ideas.”

Parkrose Neighborhood Association Chair Mary Walker, and Zari Director of Portland Parts & Recreation Zari Santner, listen as Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish declares the City’s commitment to new and better parks.

Fish commends predecessor
In introducing Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, Santner recalled how he hoped to become the parks commissioner if elected. “He said he knew how important parks are to our community, and the livability of our city.”

“We, as Portland City Counselors, get bogged down in many issues, and must deal with tough situations,” Fish told the group. “We often don’t get to celebrate good news like this park dedication brings. I’m so happy to join with you here today. Commissioner Dan Saltzman was a great parks commissioner. I’m here to tell you that this, this first City park in Parkrose, is the start – not the ending – of our commitment to park growth.”

Fish reminded the group that the Parks Bureau is working on a master plan for the proposed Beech Park, to be located east of NE 122nd Avenue. “I’m working to find the money to come up with a second great park in Parkrose.”

East Portland on ‘their radar’
Outer East Portland is on the City Council’s “radar”, Fish said – including building soccer fields at Parkrose High School. He recalled the opening of the East Portland Community Center Aquatic Center, and the Skate Plaza at Ed Benedict Park.

“We can’t do it alone, but [we can succeed] with the leadership of citizen activists and volunteer groups, such as Friends of Trees.”

Fish concluded by commending the Parkrose Neighborhood Association Chair Mary Walker. “I love your e-mail address – Parkrose Phoenix. It’s a great metaphor for what we’re doing today. The ‘phoenix’ arose from his own ashes – and this park, over a 10-year period, has risen from being the former site of a long-time Portland company into a park that we’re going to maintain it as you expect.”

Mary Walker, Zari Santner, neighborhood activist Christine Charneski, and Nick Fish take a moment by new play area. Elizabeth Walker is in the window of the park’s sign.

Says work will benefit children
Mary Walker responded, “As we all know, it’s not something the one person does.  It does ‘take a village’; we work together. We’ve been working on this park for our children. This way, as they grow up in this neighborhood, they can build good memories to last them a lifetime. I encourage you to participate, volunteer, and to come check out the neighborhood association. Come and contribute to helping to make life better here in Parkrose.”

-4 On the new play structure, Diane Goehrend-Swanson and Emily Swanson try out the spiral slide.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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