Freeway-bound land may become become a new Gateway-area park

It may be difficult to picture the 35 acres they’re talking about along I-205 that’s planned for the Gateway Green. See why lots of folks are enthusiastic about the possibilities the park affords …

East Portland’s tireless neighborhood promoter of parks, Linda Robinson, talks about plans for the new “Gateway Green” site with neighbors, along with Cedar Kyes (“I’m the roaming bicycle expert”), and Oregon Department of Transportation operations manager Karla Keller.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Not long ago, a group of more than forty participants spent several hours huddled around tables holding drawings in the gym at Crossroads Christian Church.

These folks were looking at plans and commenting on how a strip of land – running along I-205 from the Gateway Transit Center north to Rocky Butte – might become an accessible, 35-acre nature area called “Gateway Green”.

Where will the Gateway Green lie? Oddly enough, in the area marked in red on this drawing!

“I am really excited about the site’s potential,” commented Linda Robinson, East Portland Parks Chair, after the meeting. “I’m pretty confident we can reach an agreement with Oregon Department of Transportation [ODOT], and actually make this neglected property work for the community.”

Says project will ‘create a positive buzz’
At each of the half-dozen large tables, community members conferred with planners, landscape architects, and governmental officials – and shaded in, drew on, and noted their comments on large drawings of the project.

Joined by many community members, real estate developer Ted Gilbert and Hazelwood Neighborhood’s association Chair Arlene Kimura share their dreams for the Gateway Green.

At one table, we met developer Ted Gilbert, who said he’s “absolutely enthusiastic about this project. The Gateway Green is something that will create a destination to visit and a ‘positive buzz’ around the entire region. People will come and take a fresh look at Gateway.”

The Gateway already has “some amazing attributes”, reminded Gilbert. It’s one of the most accessible areas in the region, being the epicenter of the MAX light rail system; and, it offers underdeveloped land.”

“A lot of people might say, ‘yes, but it’s Gateway’,” Gilbert went on. “But if this project comes about, it may spur catalytic quality development here.”

Jordan Secter, a landscape designer with Lando & Associates Landscape Architecture looks over the plans with Marcie Emerson Peters, Parkrose Neighborhood Association and Parkrose Vision Team, and Gill Williams, a landscape architect with David Evans and Associates.

According to traffic studies, continued Gilbert, about 65 million people go past the site every year – on their way to somewhere else. “But if we make it accessible, by a four minute walk, to the Gateway Transit Center – or other pedestrian and bicycle access points – and if it gets connected with the Sullivan’s Gulch bicycle trail, there will be a lot of visitors who come to enjoy it.”

Based on the ideas we saw being discussed at the tables, it appears the area could be a recreational opportunity for cycling, pedestrians, running and jogging, as well as a safe area for bicycle commuting.

“This could create the branding that puts the Gateway region on the map,” concluded Gilbert. “The question is whether or not we can pull it off.”

Outer East Portland’s Teena Ainslie, and Larry Kotan, a Parkrose Heights resident and member of the East Portland Action Plan Committee, study the plan and make their recommendations.

The process continues
Robinson explained that the neighbors interested in the project must go through several more steps addressing the issues identified by ODOT when they gave permission to do this initial exploration phase.

“It will take a while to move through the rest,” Robinson commented, “answering questions, like which organization would manage and maintain the site. We wanted to get a better feel for what activities the community would like to see there, before we talked with a specific agency/organization about management.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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