‘Gateway Green’ bike park is officially open

Here’s what the duo credited for coming up with what they called a ‘wild idea’ for improving outer East Portland at the time, think of the result – this newly-opened project …

At a July, 2008 meeting, Ted Gilbert showed his “wild idea” for what would become Gateway Green to Karla Keller, as co-organizer Linda Robinson looks on. East Portland News archive image

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On December 15, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) announced that the final improvements to a project started in 2008, called Gateway Green, had at last been completed, and the new park was open.

What is Gateway Green? It’s a 30-acre tract of open land situated east of Rocky Butte, between the I-84 and I-205 freeways – property owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) – that has been transformed into a most unique multi-use park.

At the 2013 Montavilla Street Fair, Sue Hanna of Oregon Bike Shop helped Linda Robinson show visitors an illustration of what would someday become a bike rider’s paradise. East Portland News archive image

We’ve covered the development Gateway Green since it first received an official name, back in 2008. Here’s an abbreviated history of this distinctive, volunteer-led project:

  • See our first story, published in 2008: CLICK HERE.
  • Then, witness how the planning progressed: CLICK HERE.
  • To read about its first major open house in 2009: CLICK HERE.
  • Take a “photographic tour” of Gateway Green, before it was developed, when volunteers were just sprucing up the area in 2010: CLICK HERE.
  • And, to read “Gateway Green Accord Reached”, about a significant meeting on December 10, 2011, CLICK HERE.
  • Take a look at this 2014 article about the successful fundraiser, CLICK HERE.
  • And, final plans for Gateway Green were revealed in our 2018 article. CLICK HERE to read it.

 

Gateway Green now provides users with:
+ Improved trails and paths, including a new gravity-powered mountain bike trail;
+ Habitat improvements and plantings;
+ An asphalt “pump track” nearly 600 feet in length; and
+ Improved park utilities, including drinking water and restrooms.

An unlikely duo hatch a ‘wild idea’
The park that’s now called Gateway Green would likely still be a piece of vacant ODOT property, in all probability now inhabited by “campers”, if it hadn’t been for longtime outer East Portland parks advocate Linda Robinson, and property developer Ted Gilbert.

Talking up Gateway Green at every public event imaginable – here at the East Portland Fair – is parks advocate Linda Robinson. East Portland News archive image

In an interview with East Portland News, Robinson recalled how she first became involved with the concept that is now known as Gateway Green.

“During our time working with the Gateway Urban Renewal Area Public Advisory Committee, in late 2005, Ted Gilbert threw out the idea of developing a park between the two freeways; and, I agreed to help champion the idea of this park that he came to call his ‘wild idea’ – with both of us thinking that it would be a way to help revitalize the area,” recollected Robinson.

During the 2013 “Spirit of Portland Awards” ceremony, then-Portland-City-Commissioner Nick Fish celebrated their “Outstanding Organization” award with Friends of Gateway Green Chair Linda Robinson, Jim Labbe, Ted Gilbert, Will Heinberg, and Jeff Schindler. East Portland News archive image

She started investing time and effort into the project, because, “After seeing the results of some of the urban renewal analyses, it was obvious that the Gateway area needed something to make it a ‘destination’ – something that would improve its livability by providing additional recreational opportunities.

“And, at the same time, this would address the park-deficient status of outer East Portland – an issue I had been working on for several years.”

About the official park-opening announcement, Robinson mused, “It’s been a long time coming – it’s now 15 years. I’ve developed a life motto of patient persistence’, based on my experience with this and other community projects.

“I consider this the highlight of my 30+ years of volunteer work,” Robinson grinned.

Ted Gilbert chimes in

Always enthusiastic about Gateway Green, Ted Gilbert talks up the project during this 2010 meeting.

One of the reasons he was on the Gateway Urban Renewal Committee, revealed Ted Gilbert of Gilbert Bros. Commercial Brokerage Company in a recent interview with us, was that he was interested in seeing the area improve because he owns investment property there.

“But, the more time I spent getting to know and work with area’s neighborhood residents and businesses, the more I came to see the Gateway District’s challenges and upside – and I became a believer in its potential,” Gilbert explained.

Still passionate about the project, Ted Gilbert mets with other supporters in 2013.

“Indeed, it was a ‘wild idea’ in 2005, as we, and the then Portland Development Commission, were struggling to get people to take a fresh look at Gateway and outer East Portland,” Gilbert mused.  “This site, visible and with potential – for some higher public use – was then owned by ODOT, and was officially off-limits to the public.

“Phase 1, the culmination of 12 years of work: A lot of learning, followed by two rounds of crowdfunding, ‘activated’ the site – getting lots of families and organizations involved; well, that was gratifying.

“Now, with the completion of Phase 2, Gateway Green is a real park! A destination; a place-maker,” Gilbert concluded with delight. “This effort shows that, in Portland, sometimes even ‘wild ideas’ work!”

Gateway Green has, indeed, become a “real park” – complete with this “nature-based play area” for kids. James Mustico and PP&R image

Very pleased, says Parks Commissioner Fritz
With the park’s opening, just as her term as a Portland City Commissioner comes to an end, Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz commented, “Gateway Green is a truly unique park.

“These improvements have enhanced natural habitat as well as provided more options for active and passive recreation,” Fritz remarked. “I’m glad that PP&R has continued to partner with Friends of Gateway Green and the Northwest Trail Alliance, and other citywide off-road cycling enthusiasts, to create this special place.”

It’s now open to the public – but, for now, with COVID-19 restrictions in place. PP&R and NW Trail Alliance image

Note COVID-19 restrictions in place
Visitors to Gateway Green must adhere to COVID-19 public health guidelines. These measures currently include wearing a face covering, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between others at all times, and washing/sanitizing hands regularly and thoroughly. To see the latest information on PP&R’s COVID-19-related closures and cancellations, CLICK HERE.

“Please do not ride on trails or elements which are saturated with water; kindly choose another feature or come back on a drier day,” officials said.

Plan on hiking or riding about a half-mile from the Gateway Transit Center, to visit Gateway Green. James Mustico and PP&R image

Note that there is no vehicle parking in, or adjacent to, Gateway Green; walkers and bicycle riders can access the park’s entrance via the I-205 Multi-use Path entrance, about a half-mile north of the Gateway/NE 99th Ave Transit Center.

To view the official PP&R Gateway Green webpage, CLICK HERE.

The Gateway Green Vision Plan (2008) was developed through a two-year community-led effort, funded by residents and advocates.

“Each of the two crowdfunding campaigns raised about $100,000 each,” said Robinson of their effort.

“Funds from the first campaign went mostly for planning, because we realized we did not have enough detail to submit a major application for a construction grant; and, funds from the second campaign, went primarily to construct The Dirt Lab, which it’s what we called the portion of the park that opened in June 2017,” Robinson noted.

“Construction funding for building out this $5.75 Million project included $1M from Metro and $4.75M in Portland Parks & Recreation System Development Charges,” said PP&R’s Ross.

Front page image courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

 

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