Rancorous Glendoveer open house leads Metro Councilors to proceed with caution

With outright lies being circulated about Metro – and its befuddling approach to managing and improving Glendoveer facilities – the regional government’s leaders are struggling with the recreational park’s future …

People – a lot of people – turned what was intended to be an informational open house into a venting session, letting Metro Counselors know their displeasure of changes proposed – and others rumored to be proposed – to the facility.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The turnout of neighbors and Glendoveer facility users to an open house on August 1 of about 500 would be admired by most governmental agencies seeking citizen input. The mostly-negative tone of the respondents who came put the Metro Counselors on edge.

Glendoveer includes two 18-hole golf courses, four covered tennis courts, and a two-mile fitness trail circling the property. The Ringside Steakhouse – along with a pro shop, a clubhouse, and a driving range – are also located on the property.

Many people attending the Glendoveer open house say they’re upset and angry about changes that might be made to the golf course and trail.

When Metro took over Glendoveer Golf Course property and facilities in the early 1990s, it was its entry into operating parks.

Now, twenty years later, Portland’s regional governmental body is mulling over how best to improve, maintain, and manage the 242-acre site, which is located east of NE 148th Avenue and occupies the entire space between NE Halsey and Glisan Streets. The site sports two 18-hole golf courses, a tennis center, a restaurant, and Metro’s most popular hiking and walking trail.

Person after person with whom we spoke at that early evening open house strongly expressed distain for the many changes to the property being bandied about.

Metro Councilor Barbara Roberts to a rancorous comment at this packed Glendoveer open house booth.

For example, Tom Slyter told us, “I’m opposed to any changes here. I think it’s a fine golf course. There’s a lot of activity that goes on here, including the nature trail.”

Taking it a step further, Slyter added, “Personally, I think Metro is an extra layer of government that isn’t needed. Sure, the water tower leaks; it should be fixed. I don’t think it makes sense to make changes here.”

Although he said he didn’t have any documentation, Slyter added, “The plans call for replacing the irrigation system. From what I see and believe, it works pretty well. But, I find it interesting that a member of their advisory committee works for an irrigation company.”

Glendoveer’s top golf pro, Jim Chianello, say he fears changes will diminish the number of golfers who use the courses – and the number of staff employed at the golf course, as well.

Greeting folks at the event was Jim Chianello, Glendoveer’s head golf pro, who opined, “We’d like to keep at 36 holes. We have a lot of people that would like to keep that here. The public is coming out and showing that they don’t want changes.”

Instead of large-scale changes, Chianello said that the recreation area just needs preservation. “Just like any maintenance project, when you’re working with Mother Nature, certain things are going to be required. But, based on their projections of money being allotted, I think it’s way too much. They’re looking at reducing the costs by reducing the size of the golf course to 27 or 18 holes.”

Rodger Jarmer gets folks in opposition to the changes to sign a petition. “This is one of the best open spaces in East Portland,” he says. “All the people around here have the opportunity to use it; and want it the way it is.”

“I play tennis here three times a week,” said Rick Trembley. “We have a large tennis community, and we want Glendoveer to keep the tennis courts. The building needs improvements. But, I don’t know if [Metro Counselors] are hearing our voices here in outer East Portland.”

Longtime outer East Portland parks activist Linda Robinson looked bemused as she watched the swirl of concerned, upset, and outright angry people who came to share their feelings.

“I think some people are misunderstanding the intent of Metro,” Robinson said. “Part of their intent is to figure out what part of their revenue to put back into the facilities in terms of maintenance and improvement – which is something they haven’t been doing.”

Robinson continued, “I think Metro is actually trying to improve the place, and really do want to know what people think. There have been some awful rumors going around, some of which are totally untrue. They’re considering several options; but, they are not going to be adding a park, they will not be selling any of it, they will not be building apartments or other buildings here.”

The comment on this poster sheet seems to sum of feelings of many who attended Metro’s Glendoveer open house.

In upcoming articles, we’ll delve into how Glendoveer is currently managed, changes suggested for the facility, and what may become of one of Portland’s most beloved green spaces.

To keep up to date with this project, see Metro’s Glendoveer website: CLICK HERE.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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