Party at Parklane promises continued improvements to Centennial neighborhood park

Find out why many City officials came to this summertime event – and, what neighbors hope the official visit portends …

Face Painter Thanee Weslew gives a make-up makeover to Alexis Zimmerman, during the “Party at Parklane Park”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While some groups protest, picket, and demand their needs be met, neighbors in the Centennial Community Association (CCA) have taken a decidedly more light-hearted approach to draw attention to their mostly-unimproved Parkland Park: They threw a party.

On the beautiful late-summer’s afternoon of August 25, CCA’s president Tom Lewis smiled as he watched families come into the park. “We’ve been getting ready for our ‘party’ for quite a while – almost since we wrapped up last year’s event. It looks like we’re going to have a fun evening.”

  • See our story on last year’s event at Parklane Park: CLICK HERE.

Neighbor Victoria Schmitt is on hand to welcome Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish to Parklane Park as the Parks Commissioner is presented a T-shirt by Nathan and Julie Skarphol and Tom Lewis.

Lewis said this event is a continuation of the effort Friends of Parklane Park have been making to build stronger relationships both with their neighbors – and with City officials. “Having stronger relationships will help us in our mission to ‘unlock’ about 20 acres which are now behind fences and are not accessible. Hopefully, one day it will be part of our park, and we will have some good amenities when it is more fully developed.”

But, it’s not all politics, Lewis added. “Although I live near here, it’s not my park – it belongs to all of our neighbors. Another goal for our events is to provide a fun, family event to help continue to build the feeling of community here in our outer East Portland neighborhood.”

This graphic shows some of the smaller improvements made, so far, to Parklane Park.

Portland City Commissioner – the Parks Commissioner – Nick Fish observed, “This is a happy evening. This is our official kickoff for the ‘E-205 Initiative’. This is the first set of improvements that the Parks Bureau is put in here at Parklane Park. It is fitting, with Tom Lewis and all the folks here who been organizing to get the park’s fenced-off land developed. It is nice that we were able to kind of respond to their needs and desires, and begin to make some small scale improvements.”

  • To read our article about the unveiling of the “E-205 Initiative”: CLICK HERE.

Volunteer Andrew Alfeche twists balloons into hats and other forms for kids.

Fish reminded that the “E-205 Initiative” was launched by the Portland City Council, with Mayor Adams authorizing $500,000 in seed money. “We’re going to match those funds to make small-scale improvements in East Portland Parks. Here we are put in a children’s play area, benches and a water fountain.”

These improvements were all in the parks Master Plan, Fish pointed out. “We picked out improvements that we could do this summer. The whole Parks Bureau team came out here, and did this in record time.”

Portland Mayor Sam Adams gets a T-shirt from Nathan Skarphol.

After receiving a commemorative T-shirt, Portland Mayor Sam Adams said “I came out to help celebrate the great work that the Friends of Parklane have done – taking a neglected, underdeveloped, but much-needed City park to the level it should be, to more adequately serve area residents.”

The most fun for him, this evening, Adams said, “Is just seeing just how genuinely thrilled they are with these improvements. The work that Commissioner Fish and I seek to accomplish – to bring basic amenities and services to outer East Portland – could not have happened without the support and advocacy of Commissioner Amanda Fritz.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz meets the Parkland Park “welcoming committee” – Tom Lewis, and Nathan and Julie Skarphol.

“What a beautiful evening to be here in the Centennial neighborhood,” remarked Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, when addressing attendees over the PA system in the park.

“This is a community that is on the map and moving up,” Fritz added. “You are showing what is important to people in East Portland, including building community. We are putting our money where our hearts are.  We care about helping make outer East Portland more of a place for everyone to enjoy. I don’t know if you ever had three City commissioners in your park at the same time before – so step up and talk to us right now! Your letters, e-mails, and testimonies are also welcome.”

Craft tables, staffed by volunteers, help kids to draw works of art.

Some neighbors gather on the lawn; others get community information from kiosks set up for the event.

After a brief presentation by the mayor and commissioners, guests were invited to tour the park.

Not long thereafter, a rock band filled the park with lively music.

The “Tom Petty Fever Band” rocks out.

Vendors provide food offerings as diverse as are the neighbors attending the Parklane Park Party.

As darkness fell, neighbors were treated to a motion picture shown on the Portland Parks & Recreation giant, 268-square foot screen: “The Twilight Saga: ECLIPSE”. It provided a perfect, yet somehow creepy, ending to a great party.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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