Promoters peddle Gateway Green bike park project

Here’s an update on the new 35-acre park proposed for outer East Portland that enthusiasts say could become a “world class” mountain-biking attraction …

More than 100 people who came to hear the latest progress on the Gateway Green project, at this mid-April meeting, listen to co-sponsor Ted Gilbert share his enthusiasm for the proposed park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Every day, thousands of cars drive by – or over – a 35-acre parcel of land that was once part of Multnomah County’s Rocky Butte Jail property. The property – now an Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) owned right-of-way, at the confluence of Interstate-84 and I-205 – is an island, cut off from Rocky Butte and from nearby neighborhoods.

“Creating a world-class mountain-bicycle park at Gateway Green creates an unparalleled opportunity for re-branding – creating something iconic – in outer East Portland, Portland itself, and the state of Oregon,” proclaimed developer Ted Gilbert, an enthusiastic proponent of the project at a meeting not long ago.

Pastor Brian Heron, of Eastminster Presbyterian Church, checks in as one of the 110 attendees at the April 14 meeting, held at the Gateway Elks hall.

Gilbert joined East Portland parks advocate Linda Robinson in what seemed like a quixotic effort to reclaim this unused property for public use. (See our past coverage of their efforts; search our site for “Gateway Green” to read those articles.)

“We went to the Oregon Department of Transportation,” Gilbert related, “and let me make this clear – they have made absolutely no commitments at this point. They have said they like the idea; they think it’s potentially do-able. But, it will take lots of [political] process, and a lot more hurdles to jump through.”

Ted Gilbert enthusiastically talks up the Gateway Green project.

Noticing ODOT officials in the room, Gilbert went on, “I can tell you, and I’m not saying this because they’re here in the room, that I could not ask for a better partner. You’ve heard stories about how difficult it can be to work with government and big bureaus. But they’ve been fabulous, absolutely fabulous, to work with. They agree, in principle, that this property should be put to a higher purpose.”

Park of many uses
Early studies indicate, Gilbert said, that the potential uses of Gateway Green are many, from walking, hiking, and picnicking – but the most immediately attractive, he went on, is off-road bicycling. “If we could do something that demonstrates Portland’s commitment to sustainable energy, water quality, and air quality, we could have something really visible and iconic.”

Because there’s so much excitement around bicycles in Portland, Gilbert continued, many people in the bicycling business have gotten onboard.

Where’s Gateway Green? This graphic indicates the location clearly.

Mountain bike heaven
The International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Jill Van Winkle stepped up and furthered Gilbert’s assertion saying, “Gateway Green has the possibility of becoming a world-class bicycling facility, because it could offer traditional cross-country bicycling, BMX riding, and gravity riding. It could accommodate an entire range of skills – from novices to highly skilled riders.”

The idea, she explained, is to keep the center of the park as open space, and put the bicycle trails around the perimeter. “There’s considerable demand for single-track facilities, especially in this part of the city,” Van Winkle told the group.

Chris Bernhardt, a natural surface trail expert with Alta Planning, showed a PowerPoint presentation charting demand for this type of park. “The bottom line is that 22.6% of the population here trail-rides about 19 times a year. We feel this park would be very well used.”

Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbor Jim Chasse, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, and his Community Liaison, Emily Hicks, listen to the Gateway Green presentation.

Gilbert, Robinson, and volunteers with Friends of Gateway Green are currently working to secure grants and other funding sources that will allow them to move forward with the studies required by ODOT and other municipal agencies.

To learn more, check their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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