Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbors clean Gates Park

Find out why a dozen folks came out on a beautiful summer-like morning to work at this unimproved outer East Portland City park …

Along SE Holgate Boulevard, in the Powellhust-Gilbert neighborhood, volunteers come to Gates Park for a morning of picking and weed-whacking.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Although Gates Park has yet to be improved or developed, it is beloved by neighbors. So much so, that a group of volunteers has worked to make the empty field into their own park for the last half-dozen years.

Encouraged by a balmy weather forecast, some dozen folks showed up at the “signpost corner” of SE 136th Avenue and Holgate Boulevard on Saturday morning, April 17th, to give it a good “spring cleaning”.

Taking a brief break from cutting up fallen limbs is Friends of Gates Park Chair James Kreipe.

“I’m glad to see we have a good turnout here today,” said Friends of Gates Park Chair James Kreipe.

“It’s a good things to do on a Saturday right?” Kreipe rhetorically questioned. “You know, it’s been so long – more that a year – since we’ve been out here, due to the COVID-19 thing – so we put forth the idea of having this little get-together at the park today!”

“I’m helping out because this is my park; I live a block away,” says volunteer Carla Johnson as she bags more refuse and litter.

Some volunteers picked up trash along the road and into the park. Others whacked weeds along the concrete barrier park border.

“There’s a lot of litter here, there are branches down and grass that needs trimming,” Kreipe told East Portland News.

Pausing their volunteer labors for a photo by the Gates Park sign are Pat Kreipe, Nancy Tingly, and Lora Martin.

Asked why they were putting forth this effort in a Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) city park, Kreipe thought for a moment, and smiled as he said, “We do this because, well, we live here!”

They weren’t completely on their own, Kreipe acknowledged. “We’re very thankful for getting some help from PP&R with mowing and other maintenance; in fact, there is a Parks Bureau person here today, on a Saturday, helping us haul stuff away!”

Volunteers pitch fallen branches and other debris into the back of a PP&R truck.

In 2018 and 2019, the Friends of Gates Park volunteers hosted Gates Park Community Barbecue events in the park. [To read about their last event, CLICK HERE.]

“We don’t really have any plans for this summer here, Kreipe conceded. In both 2020 and 2021 we applied for, and received, grants from the East Portland Action Plan to host ‘Movies in the Park’ this year – but now it’s not happening because of COVID-19 regulations which have prohibited any large gatherings this summer.”

To learn more about Friends of Gates Park, see their Facebook page: CLICK HERE.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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