Neighbors’ labors turn vacant lot into newest city park

See how the hard work of neighborhood volunteers leveraged the city’s investment of $20,000 to make Portland’s newest city park worth at nearly $500,000 ‚Ķ

City and county dignitaries, parks bureau officials and neighbors gather as the ribbon dedicating Hazeltine Park is cut.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The project started as a “clean-up” of a vacant lot on SE Flavel Drive at Nehalem Street. The effort ended up producing a Portland’s newest city park.

“This is a special project,” explained Jeff Milkes, SE Services Manager for Portland Parks & Recreation, “because it was built as a coordinated effort between the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association (BDNA) and Portland Parks and Recreation.”

At the dedication ceremony on October 6, Milkes told us improvements done on this park would put the price tag at nearly $500,000. “But we built for $20,000 because we had so much volunteer effort, so many donated services. Working together, we’ve preserved it, forever, as a park.”

Taking a break from setting up for the park’s dedication ceremony, Dick Hazeltine stands next to the sign bearing his name.

The Hazeltine of Hazeltine Park
Helping to make the new park ready for the afternoon dedication ceremony, Dick Hazeltine stopped to comment on the park that bears his name.

“At one time, they had a community policing office here,” Hazeltine recalled. “When they closed that down, I nominated this land to be a city park, with hopes it would stay in public use. Today, we’re seeing the results of that.”

The modest neighbor, born six blocks from the new park site, said he was surprised to learn members of the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association voted to name the park after him. “I’ve been involved with the neighborhood most of my life. This park is a symbol of what the county, city and neighborhood can do by working together.”

Terry Hazeltine, son of the park’s namesake and his wife, Dorothy being served at the park’s dedication buffet.

Neighbors picnic at the park
Before the official dedication, neighbors started filtering into the new park. The smell of hot dogs, BBQ chicken and other treats filled the air.

Grilling up hot dogs on one of the two, new steel grilles for which she lobbied is BDNA member Gale Kiely.

We talked with BDNA member Gale Kiely as she grilled hot dogs. “When the parks department asked what we wanted, I told them we needed a large, brick and stone barbecue pit. When they offered steel barbecues, we jumped at the offer. We’re cooking on them tonight!”

Portland “east side” City Commissioner, Randy Leonard, came by to congratulate neighbors on their new park.

As neighbors mingled and ate, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard stopped by the celebration. “Anytime we get something new that improves East Portland, I like being part of it. It’s fascinating how neighbors and the city worked together to make this a reality.”

Ribbon cutting completes opening celebration
Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, officials from the neighborhood, city and county lauded the efforts that brought this park into existence.

Portland Parks’ City Commissioner Dan Saltzman welcomes neighbors to the opening celebration of the new park.

Portland Parks’ City Commissioner Dan Saltzman told us that, more important than having a new park, was “the spirit in which this park was developed. The neighbors approached us. We were happy to work with them. This is a good story.”

At the dedication Saltzman told the gathering, “It is a pleasure to come out today and see this park. And the story of how this land became a park is inspiring. We had more desires than resources. But, by working together, we’ve put something in place of which we can be proud.”

Thanking all the neighbors who made the park possible is Dick Hazeltine.

Dick Hazeltine thanked the volunteers for all of their efforts, and the Parks Department for their help. He pointed out the great western view the park provides.

As the cut ribbon fluttered to the ground, Hazeltine smiled and looked into the late afternoon that broke through the clouds, adding a warm glow to the celebration.

As you look this new park, located on SE Flavel Drive at Nehalem Street, reflect on the effort that brought it into being. And, if you live in the area, consider helping out at a “work party” the association holds on the second Saturday of each month, between 9 a.m. and noon.

To learn more, see www.BrentwoodDarlington.org.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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