Mercado ‘Depaved’ on Foster Road

Take a look, and find out why 150 neighbors volunteered for a day of pavement-busting work in East Portland …

Neighbors lift broken pavement into drop boxes as they “depave” large sections of the Portland Mercado parking lot.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although the dozens of volunteers who came to the new home of El Mercado Latino de Portland [“Portland Mercado”], at SE 72nd Avenue and Foster Road, looked to be working hard under the hot summer sun – most of the 150 community members who came out on July 26 had smiles on their faces as they smashed the asphalt.

> Read about their May 15, 2014 groundbreaking, in our story, ‘Mercado’ comes to Foster Road: CLICK HERE

“We’re having so much fun,” said Depave Program Director Eric Rosewall. “Most of the volunteers here today are community members, who came out to celebrate the rebirth of this derelict used car lot by busting up a whole lot of pavement.”

Neighbor Toby Moore does his part, pitching torn up pavement into a wheelbarrow.

The volunteer work force were mostly “locals”; they’d canvassed about 300 homes in the immediate neighborhood of the project to invite them to participate, Rosewall said.

The event in which they broke up and removed nearly 5,000 square feet of asphalt was “Depave’s” biggest event of the year, Rosewall said.

“But, we started working with Hacienda Community Development Corporation on this project about two years ago. They had just purchased the building, and were looking for a way to engage the community around this marketplace project.

Volunteer Courtenay Hatton of Project JOIN gets ready to dump a large triangle of pavement.

“And, that’s really what our organization does,” Rosewall told East Portland News. “We are a community-building organization that does this through ‘radical landscape intervention’ – where people come and rip up pavement, and get to take part in transforming places in their neighborhood.”

The result of removing unnecessary pavement will help mitigate stormwater on the property and build a community green space. About half of the paved area will remain for parking, Rosewall said.

“The north half will provide vendor space and an outdoor gathering courtyard. The pavement we’re ripping up will be replaced with permeable pavers that will allow rainwater to infiltrate from the site, and let it flow into the ground.”

Hacienda CDC Board Member Ellen Wyoming says she’s thrilled with the “depaving” effort.

Before noon, about two hours after the “depaving” began, most of the targeted asphalt had been removed and put into drop boxes. Hacienda CDC Board Member Ellen Wyoming looked pleased as the work progressed at a rapid pace.

“It is incredible to have them here doing this,” Wyoming said. “We have been looking forward to this day since we had conversations about it in 2011. Now, it’s finally happening, and there is incredible energy here today!”

Devanne Johnson and Drew Ward of “Green Team Groundworks” do some heavy pavement slab lifting.

When it opens late this year, or in early 2015, “El Mercado Latino de Portland” will offer about 18 vendor spaces, including day tables, small stalls, larger retail shops, a commissary kitchen, and eight outdoor food carts.

Additional information is available at www.portlandmercado.com.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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