Powell Butte Park improvement plan pitched to outer East Portlanders

While they’re digging the “big water tank”, see how they’re planning to improve the park – when construction is completed. And, get a brief update on the progress of the project, right here …

The Portland Water Bureau’s principal engineer and project manager for building Powell Butte Reservoir II, Teresa Elliott, shows a graphic – comparing how the top of Powell Butte is expected to look after renovation, and how it looked before the project began.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
People from all over outer East Portland came to Parklane Christian Church Social Hall on January 25 to get a progress report on Powell Butte Reservoir II, and also to learn about proposed park improvements.

“As most everyone knows, the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) is building a second 50,000,000 gallon reservoir on Powell Butte,” explained PWB’s principal engineer and project manager for building Powell Butte Reservoir II, Teresa Elliott.

> To view our article about this project’s introduction to the community, CLICK HERE.
> To see our article about this project’s groundbreaking, CLICK HERE.

“We’re here, holding an open house to present more of the park improvements, the visual improvements, and trail aspects to Portland residents,” Elliott told us. “We’re conveying what the Project Advisory Committee group has been doing over the last eight weeks, looking at different options.”

Since October, Elliott went on, the committee members have been looking at the trail plan update for the Butte – expanding and refining it, and deciding what improvements and amenities will be added, such as an updated restroom, interpretive center, and parking lot.

“In terms of the caretaker’s house, we’ll be removing the existing manufactured home and replacing it with a more historical farm-like house,” noted Elliott. “All of the buildings that we are putting in [the park] will be those that are included in the 2003 Provisional Master Plan. We’re making the cluster of buildings look more like a farm.”

The caretaker’s house will look more rustic, perhaps looking like a barn structure, Elliott explained. “The Interpretive Center will look like an outbuilding with an enclosed teaching area. Also, outdoor displays, protected from the weather, will always be available to the community.”

All of these improvements will be going on concurrent with the digging of the tank.

Resident Ray Bayley looks at some of the many exhibits the line the walls of the meeting room.

Big hole update
In regard to constructing the 50,000,000-gallon reservoir, Elliott said, “We’ve already removed and stored the topsoil. We’re at the halfway point for this phase – we’ve excavated down about ten of the twenty feet.”

About 275 dump truck loads a day rumble down the side of the butte, headed for a Gresham-area gravel pit.

“We should be done with Phase 1 by the end of March, or early April,” Elliott informed us. “We’re working here in the Pacific Northwest, so we expect rain – the crews just go slower when it’s raining; it’s not a problem.”

During Phase 2 of the project, crews will continue to dig down, finishing the hopper-bottom – the lowest 15 feet of the excavation. This includes shaping up the reservoir, and making sure the alignments for the piping are all in place. “We should be submitting a Land Use application around April 1; we’ll be advertising the project for construction probably in August; and construction will start in the winter of 2010,” Elliott said.

Tom Lewis, who is with the Centennial Community Association, talks with Gregg Everhart , a landscape architect and senior planner with Portland Parks & Recreation.

No complaints from neighbors noted
At the open house, Tom Lewis of the Centennial Community Association said he’s been part of the advisory group working on the park’s trails and amenities. “We’re on the ‘back end’ of giving citizen input; the designers will work up the ideas we’ve given them.”

Asked if hundreds of truckloads of dirt being hauled through Centennial neighborhood streets have raised the ire of citizens, Lewis replied, “I haven’t heard any complaints. I have been up to visit Powell Butte construction site several times. It looks like the truck wash system, and the efforts they’re making, are keeping criticism to a minimum. It’s been good.”

For more information of the Powell Butte Reservoir II project, PWB has developed a website: CLICK HERE to visit it.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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