Major ‘Gateway Green’ progress reported

Take a look, and see how the proponents of this unique outer East Portland ‘Bicycle Park’ are moving their project forward …

Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors Chair Tom Badrick welcomes guests to a Gateway Green open house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The story of the efforts to create a new park at the north end of the Gateway District continues to unfold. Efforts to turn 35 acres of underused publically-owned land that proponents say will one day become “Gateway Green” has continued to pick up momentum.

During a 33-day fundraiser last fall, 756 donors contributed $123,880 – money dedicated to creating more detailed plans for the park.

> See our story about this unique “Crowd-Funding” campaign: CLICK HERE.

Friends of Gateway Green Chair Linda Robinson points out where the Nature Play Area is proposed to be built within Gateway Green.

At a February 15 Open House, Gateway Green “co-instigator” Linda Robinson, Chair of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation Friends of Gateway Green, talked about their progress.

“Thanks to the funds raised last year, we are continuing the project-planning process,” Robinson told East Portland News. “A result of that process is all these drawings we have here at this open house.

“As you can see, we have a lot more detail than we had before,” Robinson pointed out. “It is more specific about what kind of bicycle recreation features will be there.”

She pointed out where a proposed Nature Play Area will be located. “There will be all kinds of natural amenities, like logs to walk on, and sand to play in.”

Gateway Green prime-mover Ted Gilbert, of Baron Equities and Resources Inc., spends a moment with David Evans and Associates, Inc. Director of Landscape Architecture Gill Williams, and Portland Parks & Recreation Strategy & Planning Manager Brett Horner.

Their organization is preparing to move on from “draft” proposals. “So, we’re looking for feedback from people,” Robinson said. “There will be another iteration of these plans in another month or two.  In the spring we hope to go for the pre-application with the City of Portland to find out what [permits and] applications we need.

“We are working with the City, and we have an agreement with Portland Parks & Recreation – they are playing a key role in this.  We are including their maintenance people in the planning so that it meets those standards, because they are the ones who will be maintaining it.  It is a collaborative effort.

“But, we are taking the lead in paying for it, although they will own it and maintain it,” Robinson added. “It’s a model very similar to what they’re doing at Cully Park, where the neighborhood is taking the lead on the planning and construction, and the Parks Bureau will be doing the maintenance later on.”

Looking at exhibits is Kelly Rodgers, holding Maia Labbe – a future Gateway Green bike rider.

After showing off their 2013 “Spirit of Portland Award”, Gateway Green’s “sparkplug”, Ted Gilbert, thanked the project’s many partners – both at the event and those not present.

“People said working with Portland Parks & Recreation was going to be a nightmare,” Gilbert remarked. “But, in terms of public agencies believing in an idea, I could not dream of getting more support than we get from them. We really thank Portland Parks.”

Ted Gilbert speaks enthusiastically about the Gateway Green project.

“Gateway Green is more than just another park,” Gilbert said. “It can be the fuel needed to rebrand outer East Portland. Yes, [the Gateway District] is regional asset. Yes, this will be great for bicycle tourism. But even more, this project can help everyone take a fresh look at the region, and provide economic revitalization for this area. I can’t think of a single project that could do more.”

Gilbert pointed out that about 65 million people a year travel through or near the mid-County area. “If we do something iconic and catalytic, this will start people are talking, and gain positive attention.”

Pointing out that Gateway Green is more than about just bicycles, Gilbert added, “Take a look at the drawings and conceptual ideas for the Nature Play Area! I think that it will become a destination in and of itself.”

Gateway Green will attract a half-million cyclists, project promoter Ted Gilbert believes.

Estimates are, Gilbert continued, that as many as 500,000 bicycle enthusiasts will visit the project every year. “The ‘world’ will be coming to East Portland. Hopefully, that’ll bring benefits that will spill out that will be important to our area.”

Learn more about Gateway Green – and consider donating to the cause – at their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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