Successful BBQ hosted by Gates Park boosters

Discover why volunteers keep putting on this outer East Portland party at an undeveloped park …

With canopies overhead to protect them from passing showers, folks from the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood come to enjoy this year’s “Gates Park Barbecue and Community Fair”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Again this year, it looked like rain. And there were even a few sprinkles that morning. But, on August 10, those misty showers did come to an end as the third annual Gates Park Barbecue and Community Fair got underway.

Because of overnight sprinkles and the resulting damp streets, volunteers at the event were wondering if the community would turn out for the annual party – but soon they were pleasantly pleased to see dozens of neighbors drifting into the park at noon.

Bringing diverse neighbors together to enjoy, and to learn more about, the park, is the stated goal of the picnic’s organizer and Friends of Gates Park Chair Jim Kreipe.

“This is a way to get neighbors to what is officially called the ‘Gates Park Property’ to meet other families, enjoy a barbecue lunch, meet with community organizations, and have some fun – while enjoying their neighborhood park,” explained Friends of Gates Park Chair Jim Kreipe.

“And, this year we’re officially associated with the National Night Out program,” Kreipe told East Portland News.

Showing simple preparedness methods and tools, in Gates Park, their official “Staging Area”, are Powellhurst-Gilbert NET team members Yashica Palshikar and Amy Provenzola.

Staying busy serving some 250 hot dogs, lots of corn on the cob, watermelon, chips, cookies, and soft drinks are volunteers Lora Martin, Pat Kreipe, and Tyrone Silmon.

Friends of Gates Park was formed about five years ago by a group of neighbors who live around the Gates Park property, Kreipe remarked. “We came together to see how we could ‘move the needle’ on getting some very basic improvements made to what’s been an empty field, here in outer East Portland.”

The Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) online “Park Finder” doesn’t even list it as a park location. The only thing that designates this as a Portland City Park is the sign that was recently installed in the southwest corner of the property.

“Now that it has a sign, neighbors identify it more as their own, instead of considering it to be ‘off limits’ private property,” Kreipe said. “We have more families frequenting the park.”

Giving away commemorative T-shirts are volunteer Bob Blackwell and the artist that designed them, Robin Casey.

Making art at the fair, mom Beth Pharis watches as her budding artist, Emma, creates.

Before any improvements are done to the park, it must go through the process of obtaining a PP&R Master Plan. “They can cost anywhere up to $300,000,” explained Kreipe. “My argument is that, for a fraction of that money, we can make inexpensive improvements like adding a pathway – a little permanent trail – and a couple of sturdy benches.”

During the picnic, dozens of cheerful, willing, dedicated volunteers helped out, serving meals to about 200 neighbors, helping with event logistics, and sharing their goals for improving the park.

Providing lively tunes at the event, playing their modern spin on Gypsy and Eastern European folk music, are Rosalie & Raven Crowe of the “Coin of the Realm Orchestra”.

“Volunteers are pitching in to do this because we want to give back, and see our neighborhood improve; it’s just that simple,” Kreipe observed. “We started working on this in January.

“What I like best about our event is seeing the diversity of neighbors who come to enjoy the park with us,” Kreipe reflected.

Enjoying fresh corn-on-t he-cob is Owen Kinsel Guynn, with a little help from his dad, Matt Guynn.

The Gates Park Barbecue and Community Fair was funded in part by a grant from the East Portland Action Plan.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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