Portland study mulls Parkrose farmland development

What will happen to the outer East Portland farmland just east of NE 122nd Avenue, and south of Shaver Street?  Learn more, and chime in, online, by January 31 …

These are two of the many neighbors who came to Parkrose Middle School on a blustery December night to learn more about how Parkrose and Argay Terrace neighborhood farmland might be developed.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

What’s been called the “Parkrose-Argay Development Study” kicked off with a community open house and listening session, on Tuesday evening, December 11, in the cafetorium of Parkrose Middle School.

The study, shepherded by the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (BPS), is about how a 30-acre parcel of land, owned for decades by the Rossi, Guisto, and Garre farming families, might be developed.

Representing his family at the meeting, Joe Rossi spends a moment with outer East Portland parks advocate, Linda Robinson.

“This study and process is important to our family, because we want to have a conversation with the community about the farm property, and how it might be developed, at this point in time,” remarked Joe Rossi at the meeting.

“Our three families have owned this undeveloped farmland for more than 100 years; and, it’s a sizable area, right in the middle of developed neighborhoods,” Rossi told East Portland News at the event.

This aerial photo, looking south at the property, shows the expanse of undeveloped property under consideration. BPS image

Instead of selling off the land to developers to build whatever the zoning codes allow, the families want to develop the property in a way that will benefit the community. “Through this kind of study, we hope to learn from the community what we might otherwise be missing,” said Rossi.

There isn’t a timeline for developing the project, and the landowners have projects in mind, Rossi commented. “We want to ‘do our homework’ before we move ahead on any type of project.”

Many participants sit before the formal presentation begins.

Those who decry the iconic and bucolic farmland potentially being developed don’t understand the financial side of farming these days, Rossi surmised.

“Why we’re not continuing to ‘forever farm’ the property is simply economics,” explained Rossi. “Farming is now a matter of scale; long ago, there were a couple hundred small farmers here, supplying fresh fruits and vegetables for the greater Portland area. With changes in transportation, and commercial farm consolidation, small farmers are at an economic disadvantage when grocers source their produce, sometimes, internationally.”

Neighbors Brian McCauley and Megan Petrucelli look at exhibits of the area under study.

Of the about 80 people who braved the wind-whipped rainstorm to attend, many looked at the exhibits posted in the room – including Parkrose resident Brian McCauley, who told us he lives off NE Shaver Street.

“Development of this property would have a huge impact in our lives,” McCauley said. “We’d like the opportunity to have a voice about development, and what gets built in what gets developed – or, at least, find out what’s planned.”

Several other people present remarked that they appreciated that the landowners – instead of just pulling permits and beginning development – had started a process of talking with the community, and listening to community needs.

City of Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability Senior Planner Barry Manning listens to a neighbor’s opinion.

“Our Bureau is working with property owners, with some funding from a Metro grant, to help develop idea of what development might look like on that property,” explained BPS Senior Planner Barry Manning, the project manager for the Parkrose-Argay Study, just before the formal meeting began.

“With newly-adopted zoning codes on the property, this is an opportune time to look at potentially working together on a project, and discuss how the site would be developed,” Manning said.

During the presentation, attendees learn that the “Parkrose-Argay Development Study” is an exploratory project, not a planning exercise.

This is different kind of project for the Bureau, Manning commented. “We generally are considering some fine-tuning and infill in neighborhoods. Here, we’re talking about a whole brand-new development – and, usually, that only occurs on the outskirts of the city.

“In this case, we’re working in the context of a large undeveloped parcel of land within developed neighborhoods, and with the newly-developed Luuwit View Park adjacent to it. We want to fit something in that works for everybody,” said Manning.

First, learn more about the “Parkrose-Argay Development Study” by going to their official webpage: CLICK HERE.

And then, to complete the same questionnaire used by those who attended the December workshop used, CLICK HERE to open their SurveyMonkey Survey.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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