Parks Bond pitched at Cleveland High

See why officials say this new levy isn’t a “new tax” – and why it’s needed – at their only large open house in East Portland. Find out how outer East Portland parks benefit …

About 80 people register at this Parks Replacement Bond Open House; but more than 150 attend the meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The mood of the 150+ people that filled every table bench and chair in the Cleveland High School Cafeteria the evening of June 30 was jovial and supportive when Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz came to pitch renewing the Parks Replacement Bond Levy.

Brentwood-Darlington’s Dick Hazeltine listens to the presentation.

“I came here to support the Parks Bureau,” said lifetime Brentwood-Darlington resident Dick Hazeltine, for whom a neighborhood park was named,   “I’ll pay for the bond measure because I enjoy our parks.”

Also before the meeting, business owner and President of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association Richard Kiely with Home Run Graphics commented, “I am here because I would rather continue paying what I’m paying now, than have a larger fee to pay later.”

As attendees got snacks of fresh fruit and cookies, Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz spoke with East Portland News.

“I’m very excited about the potential to obtain resources, to make sure that our parks don’t fail,” Fritz said. “Many parks are failing in terms of structural and maintenance issues. Pretty much your name any park in our system; it needs some kind of structural improvements or maintenance. Right now we have $1.5 million a year to do all 209 facilities, citywide.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz takes questions and comments from the audience.

Fritz stressed both in the interview and during the meeting, that she wasn’t proposing an “additional” tax. “It’s not an additional tax. It’s a bond replacing one that’s expiring. If voters decide not to replace the bond, the tax bill on a house valued at $150,000 will go down by $13. If we replace the bond, the tax rate will not go up; it will stay at the current rate going on for the life of the bond.”

The meeting started off with Commissioner Fritz taking a wireless microphone into the crowd to hear questions and comments. Most interviewees were complementary of the Parks Bureau and voiced their support for the bond measure.

Attendees listen intently, as the meeting gets underway.

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) Director Mike Abbaté started off the meeting, saying that in the Bureau’s 100 year history, “Portlanders have repeatedly demonstrated that they care about parks and recreation. As a matter of fact, you may wonder why we have had [to raise funds through] these bond measures and levies in the first place.”

Funding for PP&R comes primarily from the one source, the City of Portland General Fund, Abbaté said. “But when you look at the history of the parks system, those annual general operating funds have paid for programs, mowing lawns, operating Community Centers.

“They haven’t ever been sufficient to take care of what we call ‘heavy maintenance’ issues,” explained Abbaté. “And, we need to repair and replace things in many facilities and parks.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz listens as Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté tells why this tax needs to be continued, after it expires in 2015.

Major maintenance projects in outer East Portland:

  • Argay Park – Rebuild and resurface playing surface on all four existing tennis courts. Open two closed courts and upgrade lighting.
  • Ed Benedict Park – Install a new Portland Loo.
  • Lents Park – Remove and replace the wooden play structures, expanding the play area, and creating an ADA accessible pathway to the playground per Lents Park 2011 master plan.
  • Parklane Park – Install a new Portland Loo.
  • Ventura Park – Currently has play equipment that is outdated and deteriorating. Update the play area, enabling the park to better serve growing community. Install a new Portland Loo.
  • Wilkes Park – Install a new Portland Loo.

 

Many people, from all over East Portland, participate in this Open House.

On July 24, the Portland City Council voted in favor of referring the Parks Replacement Bond Measure on 24; it will appear on the November 4 ballot.

If the bond measure passes, homeowners would again be assessed what they currently have been paying: $.0877 per $1000 of the assessed property value of their home.

On our Front Page: Parks staffer Jessie Bond stands outside the venue, pitching for participation.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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