Lent School’s lot further ‘Depaved’

See why volunteers toiled under the hot summer sun to remove even more pavement from an outer East Portland elementary school in Lents …

Here at Oliver P. Lent School, more pavement is being cleared – this time, to make way for a nature play area.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The story of the latest project coordinated by the organization called Depave, held on July 22, actually started about six years ago at Oliver P. Lent School.

“We had a terrible playground back then, even before my kids started going to school here,” recalled Oliver P. Lent School Playground Improvement Coordinator Brian D’Agostine, at the recent pavement-busting party.

“I took it upon myself to try to figure out what we could do to improve it, and the Principal at the time suggested that we start up the PTA again, and start working to improve our playground,” D’Agostine told East Portland News.

After the school’s PTA was revitalized, it took quite a while to raise funds and obtain a grant from Prosper Portland to rip out the double-layer asphalt, purchase a new play structure, and install it, in October of 2016.

Read “Playground opens at Lent Elementary School”: CLICK HERE.

With the new play structure in the background, workers chip, heave, and lift with all their might, to clear out slabs of asphalt.

“In the previous phase, the play structure suggested a pirate ship theme,” observed D’Agostine. “Now, in the final phase in the whole saga, after the area is ‘depaved’, we’ll create a natural play area – with a small hill serving as a ‘desert island’, and adding some rocks and logs on which to play.”

Even though the play area features a pirate theme, he joked, “I won’t be lobbying to change our school mascot to the ‘Pirates’ or ‘Buccaneers’ anytime soon!”

Lent School parent, volunteer and PTA Vice President Carolyn Myers hauls the broken pavement to a drop box.

As many as 80 volunteers came and went during the day, prying up the layers of pavement – with incredibly strong hardware cloth securely sticking them together – to clear the new play space, just south of the new play structure.

“It’s been a long road, and an incredible improvement,” D’Agostine commended. “We’re really thankful to ‘Depave’ for coming out, for the second time, to help us.”

Getting their hands dirty are Lent School Playground Improvement Coordinator Brian D’Agostine and “Depave” Executive Director Eric Rosewall.

“We’re delighted to partner with them again,” responded “Depave” Executive Director Eric Rosewall. “It’s always wonderful to see all these folks volunteering their time on a beautiful summer Saturday to help us transform this over-paved playground into a really beautiful, creative nature play area for kids.

“It’s amazing to see how much people love this activity; it’s a really unique experience that you can’t really get anywhere else,” Rosewall remarked.

After standing up this slap of pavement, students Gabriella D’Agostine and Genevieve Bailey prepare to break it by toppling it over.

“You get to pry up, smash things and do some ‘constructive destruction’ and, at the end of the day, see the results of your labor, and know that you’ve helped a really good cause – all while working alongside of really awesome people, many of them we’ve just met,” smiled Rosewall.

To see how much fun it is to help an area go from a “Paved parking lot to paradise” as their slogan suggests, see the “Depave” website: CLICK HERE.

Slab by slab, this paved area is becoming a new nature play area for students at Lent School.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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