‘Preferred Alternative’ revealed for proposed Gateway park

See what two City Bureaus have cooked up – with lots of help from neighbors – for the lot where JJ North’s and the bingo hall once stood, on NE Halsey Street. Miss the meeting? Review the plan and comment, online, through December 1 …

Public skateboard advocate Dan Hammond (right) talks with others visiting the Gateway Park open house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The possibility of a new City Park coming to the Hazelwood Neighborhood is just a little closer to someday becoming a reality.

The “Gateway Redevelopment and Park Project” preferred alternative plans were laid out before a lightly-attended meeting of a group of neighbors on November 18, at the East Portland Community Center.

> To see our background story on this park project: CLICK HERE.

One of the project’s co-managers, Justin Douglas, with the Portland Development Commission (PDC), reminded us that their agency, and Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), purchased three lots, totaling 4.2 acres in size, fronting NE Halsey Street at NE 106th Avenue about a year ago. Most folks familiar with the Gateway area refer to it as the “JJ North’s Chuckwagon and Bingo Hall” site.

Project designer Carol Mayer-Reed, of Mayer/Reed, is given the podium by the project’s co-manager, Justin Douglas, from the Portland Development Commission.

“The idea is to create a three-acre park, and use the balance of the space for supporting complementary redevelopment,” Douglas said. “Tonight, we’re holding the third of three public open houses, gathering public input about the Gateway Redevelopment and Park Project. The consultant team is showing their final draft design.”

At the last open house, Douglas reminded, they unveiled three draft designs. “The consultants boiled down all the comments, to come to this one design. Tonight, we’re presenting that draft design to get feedback – to see if we’re on the right track. They’ll be doing tweaks over the next few weeks, based on what they learn tonight.”

The new Gateway park’s landscape architect, Carol Mayer-Reed, explains how her team incorporated suggestions, ideas, and feedback into the new preferred alternative she’s presenting.

Says design combines plaza, and park
Co-manager of the project for PP&R, Kathleen ‘Kip’ Wadden, pointed out that the design features “very flexible space. The most important feature is the combination of a plaza and a park. It’s going to allow for event and community gathering opportunities. There’s an adventure-play area, with the ‘snake run’ for bikes, and ‘snake run’ for skateboards at a beginner level.”

Wadden also pointed out an abundance of walking paths. “It will be pretty; it’s open and has good sun exposure. It is an incredibly attractive design.”

Audience members listen while Carol Mayer-Reed talks about the features they’re proposing for the new Gateway Park.

Neighborhood chair applauds progress
One of the participants at the open house was Hazelwood Neighborhood Association’s Chair, Arlene Kimura – who spoke with East Portland News as a neighbor, not as a representative of the association.

“It was a very good meeting,” Kimura told us. “We had a good exchange of information; people were generally supportive.”

A few attendees brought up specific issues they’d like to see addressed, Kimura noted. “But, in terms of a concept, I did not hear significantly negative comments. I really like the emphasis on small children activities; there are a lot of families with small children who live in the immediate area.”

A standout feature for her, she said was the event areas. “We asked specifically for the design to include areas for community events; to make sure we have electricity available at several locations. We are hoping that we can host a ‘Movie in the Park’ next summer.”

Kimura concluded by congratulating neighbors and interested parties for participating in the process. “With some projects, only two or three people will come out. But, many people have shown interest in the park and provided good community input. Everyone who commented was very respectful, and the [management team] really did try to accommodate our requests.”

Says project lacks construction funding
For neighbors hoping to see construction begin soon, Douglas had bad news. “We don’t have any funding at this point, for either the [building] development or constructing the park. But, by doing the planning now, it will increase the odds to get it ‘in the queue’ for park funding.”

Douglas stressed that building the commercial/residential structures and creating the park aren’t contingent on one another. “The [structure] development could happen first, or the park could come first. They don’t have to happen at the same time; but, it would be great if it did.”

This is a simplified diagram of the proposed Gateway Redevelopment and Park Project, presented as the current preferred alternative, as of November, 2010. PP&R graphic

Comment period open until December 1
At the open house, the online comment period was announced to end on November 23rd.

“If you had other meetings the night of the open house,” wrote parks advocate Linda Robinson, “I’ve just learned that the comment period has been extended through Wednesday December 1st.”

One request, however: Before you comment, please do review the materials provided!  This link will take you to the PP&R comment page: CLICK HERE.

For more information, contact Justin Douglas, PDC Project Manager at 503-823-4579 or douglasj@pdc.us; Kip Wadden, PP&R Project Manager at 503-823-6152 or kathleen.wadden@portlandoregon.gov.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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