‘Master Plan’ for Lents Park moves forward

In this update, you’ll find out how far the Master Plan Committee’s volunteers have gotten with “re-visioning” this historic park. And, if you act now, before September 8, (EXTENDED to SEPTEMBER 15) you’ll see how you can add your comments by taking an on-line survey …

Lents Park Master Plan committee members, interested neighbors, business people, and staff watch a presentation detailing features of the revered park’s planned upgrade.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Lents Park is one of Portland’s oldest parks, having been created in 1914. Now, a committee of volunteers is taking a look at how Lents Park could be improved, to meet the changing needs of the area.

The committee has been working with Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) and the Portland Development Commission to develop a new “Master Plan” for the 38-acre park. The project, led by Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, seeks to adopt a vision for Lents Park. Previously, a proposal to build a new stadium for the Portland Beavers at the current site of Walker Stadium was vigorously opposed, and withdrawn.

> To read our article about the first meeting in this process, CLICK HERE.

After a June, 2010, Open House, Walker-Macy – a firm specializing in landscape architecture, urban design, and planning – compiled the ideas presented, and incorporated them into the existing 1981 Lents Park Report plan. In a series of meetings since them, the committee has refined those ideas.

Committee member Sonia Montalbano says the open house events give neighbors the opportunity to express their opinions of how Lents Park should be improved.

August open house presents trio of plans
At an open house – really, a presentation and workshop – held on August 26 at the Lents Masonic Hall, just south of Lents Park, committee members and the public got their first look at three different proposed Master Plans for the park.

“These are potential plans,” pointed out committee member Sonia Montalbano, who was working the door at the event. “The purpose of this meeting is to open these potential plans to public comment, and review and critique suggestions by both the committee members and interested people in community.”

Mike Zilis, a principal and a landscape designer with Walker-Macy, presents elements of the three different proposed Master Plan concepts.

Aided by comprehensive graphic presentation, Mike Zilis, a principal and landscape designer with Walker-Macy, went over the plans, labeled “A”, “B” and “C”, and extolled the virtues of each, in detail.

Then, participants broke into workgroups around tables, each prepared with a large color printout of each plan. During the table discussions, participants made notes on the printouts, and filled in surveys regarding their preferences.

Says doesn’t want gazebo moved
Lents Neighborhood Assn. Safety Chair Clinton Lenard told us that he favored Plan “A”. “It keeps the park pretty much the way it is. I’m in favor of many improvements, like putting in new paths. And, it would be good to expand the Community Garden. But, on some of the other plans, a few of the changes I see are ridiculous.”

Specifically, Lenard said, moving the Lents Park Gazebo from its present location, on the northeast side of the park, to the southwest side.

“We spent a lot of money putting in the gazebo; it’s well-situated and constructed. Why they want to move it to the other side of the park, God only knows.”

At the open house, neighbors study the plan printouts, make notes, and take the survey – also available online.

Online comment period extended through September 15
For folks who missed the open house, PP&R has web pages dedicated to the Lents Park Master Plan Project.

“We hope people who are interested will first read about the process,” confided Montalbano, “then look at the three proposed plans – and then take the online survey. We want as much community input as possible.”

> To view the Lents Park Master Plan home page – it also contains links to the background information and to the surveyCLICK HERE.

At one of the tables at the August open house, Jim MacKenzie and David Hyde study the proposed plans, as committee member Cora Lee Potter answers questions.

After the open house, committee member Cora Lee Potter let us know that residents can look at the display board of the plans, and fill out a paper survey, at Lents Commons (SE 92nd Avenue and SE Foster Road) — and that the deadline for taking the online survey has been extended until 5:00 p.m. on September 15.

“Please keep in mind that this isn’t [limited to] a choice [of] ‘A, B, or C, and be stuck with it’,” Potter said. “We’re still very much in the feedback stage and we could end up with alternate scenarios based on everyone’s feedback. We can still say ‘no’ to some elements, suggest other features be added, and make other suggestions about programming and operations of the park.”

There will be another opportunity to participate before the Master Plan is finalized. They’ll be holding a Community Open House on October 6, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Lents Masonic Lodge, 5811 SE 92nd Avenue. Understand, unlike a traditional open house, these are actually more like workshops than drop-in events.

To be pitched to City Council in 2011
From September through December, the committee will work with consultants and PF&R to further develop a preferred concept and to finalize a master plan. They’re working toward having a completed Master Plan to present to Portland City Council for approval next January.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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