‘Gates Park’ believers celebrate with BBQ

Discover why, although it now looks like a field in outer East Portland, supporters hope for more, someday

Here in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, “Friends of Gates Park” meet to celebrate their organization, and to hope for the future of this tract.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

A few neighbors looked at the empty field, along SE 136th Avenue, between SE Mall Street and Holgate Boulevard, and envisioned it as “real” city park.

To that end, in the spring of 2016, the group – Friends of Gates Park – was founded, said the organization’s Chair James Kreipe, said at their second annual barbecue get-together on August 8.

Ducking under a canopy to avoid a brief passing rain shower at the annual gathering is “Friends of Gates Park” Chair James Kreipe.

“We started it three years ago, with the aim of building groundswell support for improvements at Gates Park,” recalled Kreipe.

Their first effort was leafleting houses directly around the perimeter of the park property. “To our surprise, about 50 people came to our first meeting – a really good turnout!” Kreipe told East Portland News. “We’ve been meeting on the second Tuesday of every month since then, except for a few months in the wintertime; sometimes we meet here in the park, and otherwise we meet at Gilbert Heights Elementary School.”

Grillmaster Rick Martin is one of a dozen volunteers cooking and serving guests at the event.

A Park Master Plan is not yet been developed for this park, or even scheduled, Kreipe acknowledged.  “But we are getting our ‘un-park’ – a field with a sign in the corner – onto the ‘radar’ of Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R),” he said.

Musically entertaining is the duo, Megan & Chris.

These efforts have paid off; PP&R, with help of the Friends group, has made some improvements, such as clearing underbrush, trimming lower parts of  the few trees there, and Parks Bureau workers regularly mowing the brush.

“Now, it’s a usable area; keeping it clear has discouraged ‘campers’, because it’s now difficult to hide in the park,” Kreipe pointed out.

Over the dozen years that Kreipe’s lived in the area, getting involved with Friends of Gates Park has been has been a gratifying experience. “Getting to know my neighbors is great, but this effort makes me ‘feel grounded’ in the neighborhood – and this project is well worth the effort.

Guests line up for a three-course barbecue lunch, served by their volunteer neighbors.

“We have a great group of people here who really want to see this park happen, someday,” he reflected.

“Oh, and if you could mention that our annual barbecue is funded, in part, by the East Portland Action Plan, we’d appreciate it,” Kreipe requested. Consider it done!

Many Friends of Gates Park supporters enjoy an afternoon filled with food, music, and camaraderie.

They generally meet monthly, but their September meeting has been postponed. To learn more, or join Friends of Gates Park, see their Facebook page: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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