Groundbreaking signals construction under way for Portland Immigrant Statue site

Portland Immigrant Statue unveiling and Parkrose centennial celebration set October 1

Preparing the traffic island for the installation of the Portland Immigrant Statue in Parkrose are Pasqual Tellez, Benjamin Romero, Lou Livingston of Living Systems, Bob Brown of Bob Brown Tires, Parkrose Community Foundation board member Luke Shepard, Mike Treadway and Mark Baldwin. Kneeling, from left to right: Parkrose Immigrant Statue marketing director Amelia Salvador, Jesus Tellez and statue project director Joe Rossi.

By Rich Riegel, photos by Max Monty
Work on the creation of the Portland Immigrant Statue is moving along briskly, as the date of the unveiling fast approaches.

Groundbreaking took place early Saturday morning, August 27 at the site of the statue, the traffic island at Northeast 98th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard in Portland.

The site had been previously surveyed by First United Engineering in preparation for construction of the site’s sidewalks, dedication wall and statue base.

During the groundbreaking, shrubs and small trees were removed in anticipation of the construction work. The plants were relocated to Rossi Farms in Parkrose and will be donated to the community.

Bob Brown, owner of Bob Brown Tires near Northeast 122nd Avenue and Sandy Boulevard in Parkrose, and his wife were the first contributors to the capital campaign to raise funds for the creation of the statue and the construction of the site. Bob Brown was also the man with the shovel turning the first portion of earth during the groundbreaking ceremony and actual work day at the site on Aug. 27.

“The project was a vision of Joe Rossi’s,” Bob Brown said, “and he’s got the community involved.

“It’ll be a great introduction for those coming into Parkrose,” he continued. “It honors all immigrants, and we all come from immigrants.” As for the contribution: “Joe Rossi charged my wife Mary and I with his enthusiasm, and we stepped right up.”

Portland Immigrant Statue sculptor James Gion shows a miniature of the artwork that will adorn the “Parkrose Triangle”. East Portland News archive photo

Designed to be a future landmark and regional attraction, the life-size bronze will serve as “an everlasting symbol of Portland’s gratitude for the contributions of its immigrant citizens, past, present and future,” as outlined in promotional material.

Portland Immigrant Statue landscaping consultant Lou Livingston of Living Systems provided himself and three of his employees to help. Also on hand were statue marketing director Amelia Salvador and project director Joe Rossi.

Members of Rossi’s daughter Gabrielle Rossi’s business Summit Property Services were also at the statue site working. Summit Property Services, a commercial lot maintenance firm, will maintain the plants until proper homes are found.

The balance of the nearly 20 people on hand were community volunteers interested in helping.

“It was ‘save the plants’ day,” Joe Rossi said. The next step will be excavation of the site in preparation for foundation work, he explained.

“I’m excited,” Rossi said. He compared the actual construction work to a “football game” experience.

“It’s game day,” he said.

Gabrielle Rossi, daughter of Portland Immigrant Statue project director Joe Rossi and operator of Summit Property Services, poses for the camera with her crew of workers and volunteers.

Walsh Construction is the general contractor for the Portland Immigrant Statue site construction. The architecture firm tasked with the overall design of the statue site is Portland’s LRS Architects. The artist who designed and executed the statue replica and commemorative coins, and who is executing the life-size model is Parkrose resident James Gion. The foundry involved in the execution of Gion’s design in bronze is Jim Calcagno of Boring, Ore.

Subcontractors include Graphic d’ Signs with responsibility for signage, The Wall for masonry and Merit Electric assigned as electrical contractor. Electric materials provided by Platt Electric; site irrigation consultation provided by Brant Construction; landscape design by Steve Shapiro of Shapiro Didway Landscape Architecture; landscaping consultation provided by Living Systems; landscaping and irrigation installation provided by Summit Property Services; and granite provided by Vancouver Granite. First United Engineering is the project site surveying engineer.

Portland Immigrant Statue sponsors include all the project contractors listed above, along with cash contributors like Bob Brown Tires, US Bank, Providence Health Systems and the Rossi Family in Parkrose.

Benjamin Romero of landscaping firm Living Systems works to remove plants from the traffic island at Northeast 98th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard in Parkrose on Aug. 27, in preparation for construction of the site of the Portland Immigrant Statue.

Here’s an update on plans surrounding the unveiling of the Portland Immigrant Statue:

A series of events are planned for Saturday, Oct. 1, that includes the statue unveiling, along with community events celebrating the founding of the Parkrose neighborhood of Northeast Portland. Three Portland city commissioners – Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman – are slated to attend the unveiling. In addition to the ribbon-cutting dedication for the statue, planned for that day will be a parade and community event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Parkrose.

The unveiling of the Portland Immigrant Statue, and the presentation of the entire site, including a wall heralding the financial and in-kind contributors who made the project possible, is set from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

A community parade celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Parkrose begins at 11:30 a.m., traveling from Northeast 99th Avenue along Sandy Boulevard to Northeast 112th Avenue, then heading south and ending at Parkrose High School, located at Northeast 122nd Avenue and Shaver Street. A reception for both the statue unveiling and the Parkrose centennial celebration begins at 12:30 p.m. at Parkrose High School; a Parkrose 100th birthday cake along with beverages will be served. For all of these events, the public is invited to attend. The Parkrose Farmers Market will also be held at the high school that day.

Joe Rossi explains how this community project is meant to honor all of the immigrants who have moved into Portland. East Portland News archive photo

The campaign to raise funds for the completion of the project, along with ongoing maintenance of the site, continues through the Parkrose Community Foundation. Corporations and private individuals are still needed to help sponsor and maintain the project; for more information, contact Portland Immigrant Statue marketing director Amelia Salvador at 503-789-0161 or

A three-plus-minute video on YouTube giving further details is now available; CLICK HERE to open that link.

Rich Riegel is the public relations manager for the Portland Immigrant Project; we thank him for covering this event!

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News


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