‘Gateway Party’ entices visitors into undeveloped park

See why volunteers turned a vacant field into a neighborhood party at ‘Gateway Park’ …

Volunteers from three neighborhood associations create a family-friendly gathering in undeveloped Gateway Park – but only for one afternoon.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For years, folks from the Hazelwood, Woodland Park, and Parkrose Heights neighborhoods have longed for a park on vacant land where “JJ North’s Chuckwagon” and a bowling alley once stood.

> See our 2010 story,
Gateway neighbors make ‘wish list’ for new public park”:

Event organizer and Woodland Park Neighborhood Association Chair Alesia Reese, along with Hazelwood Neighborhood Association Chair Arlene Kimura, and East Portland parks advocate Linda Robinson, take a few minutes in the shade.

“Volunteers from surrounding neighborhood associations are putting on this ‘Party at Gateway Park’ because it helps people who live and work in the area get an idea of what we hope this park will, someday, become,” said event organizer and Woodland Park Neighborhood Association Chair Alesia Reese, at the July 27 event.

“When someone drives by the park, here on NE Halsey Street, it just looks like an empty field – but it’s not!” Reese added. “Having events like this exposes the park, so more neighbors will come and use it. The more the park is used, the better the opportunity for it to get funding for development.”

This plan shows the “Preferred Alternative” for developing Gateway Park – whenever funding eventually becomes available. PP&R graphic

Olivia Quiroz, a volunteer from the East Portland Action Plan, and also from the Multnomah County Health Department, begins another game of “Lotteria” [Mexican bingo].

“East Portland is so deficient in parks,” Reese continued. “And this park – it is the closest park to our neighborhood – needs development. The only way it’ll get developed is if people start using it. And then, we hope they start caring about it, and will advocate for its development.”

Another event co-organizer, Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors Chair Jim Murphy, provides coffee for guests.

Tyquisha Harris clambers up the Portland Parks & Recreation  climbing wall, and rings the bell at the top.

The Working Stiffs rock out, providing great music for this Gateway Park event.

While she’s listed as the event’s organizer, Reese stated, “Today’s event is absolutely a ‘labor of love’ by Linda Robinson. Her advocacy work, incredible support, and organizational skills are what make this event a success.”

She also thanked mid-County neighborhood chairs Arlene Kimura and Jim Murphy for pitching in to help put on the party.

Hector Perez of Bora Bora cooks chicken to go into delicious tacos and burritos.

Folks reserve their spots for the evening’s “Movie in the Park”, the classic family film, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestial”.

Throughout the afternoon and into the evening hours, guests were provided many entertainment activities – from wall climbing, to crafts, to games – all of which ended at dusk with a “Movie in the Park”.

The organizers hope that events like this one will lead neighbors to influence City leaders to develop this outer East Portland park.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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