Volunteers preen Gateway Green

Even though this extensive land-reclamation-for-recreation project is only just getting underway, find out why folks are already offering their time to pick up some unsightly – and potentially dangerous – trash. And, take a look at exclusive photos that show why so many are working to make this idea a reality …

Helping out at the Gateway Green SOLV-IT Day are Ben Harrison, a City of Maywood Park resident, and his wife, Jean Harrison; organizer Linda Robinson; Hazelwood neighborhood volunteer Sherry Hanrahan; and Sue Gay, who lives in the Argay Neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Organized about 18 months ago – their kickoff meeting was held at the Gateway Elks on April 14, 2009 – the Friends of Gateway Green are slowly-but-surely working toward their goal of turning unused land in outer East Portland into a world-class bicycle sports park.

> Read our coverage of the Gateway Green Open House: CLICK HERE to open that page.

The project area consists of a highly visible, but unused, 35-acre parcel of publicly-owned open space, surrounded by the confluence of the I-84 and I-205 freeways. It’s a 10 minute walk – or three minute bike ride – from the Gateway MAX Light Rail Station.

“I’m glad you could come out and see the area we propose to become Gateway Green,” welcomed East Portland citizen parks advocate, and project sparkplug, Linda Robinson.

“This is part of a SOLVIT Day,” Robinson reported at the April 17 clean-up event. “This is one the 120 or so clean-up events they’re hosting across Oregon. We’re picking up trash. Even though the area is posted ‘No Trespassing’, transients stay here and leave lots of trash behind. We may cut down some Himalayan blackberries, if we have time.”

The presence of many volunteers meant much of the site was cleaned, Robinson said; 17 folks came out to pick, clip, and clean up the area – with the blessing and help of the Oregon Department of Transportation, the site’s owners.

Volunteer Dan Schauer (also seen on our cover page) heads down the slope with a bag of refuse in tow.

One of the volunteers we encountered while walking the Gateway Green trails was Dan Schauer. “I started working with this as a student project. Our team helped map the area. Now, I’m doing the Gateway Eco-district Pilot Study for Gateway – a Portland State University planning project that I’m doing with three other student colleagues.”

Most of the refuse found consisted of food wrappers and bottles. But, volunteers took special care when picking up trash – each team carried a “sharps” container in which to put the illicit drug needles and paraphernalia they came across.

“It makes you wonder who’s been camping here,” Schauer said, looking at a dirty, but fully intact, plush stuffed animal. “The most interesting thing I found was expired credit cards.”

As we walked the main trails of at the site, we were surprised how the freeway noise from I-205 and the rumble of the MAX Light Rail train faded as one approached the center of the parcel. Take a look at our photo tour, and see why so many people are working so diligently to make this Gateway Green concept a reality.

Photo tour of Gateway Green

Looking north, I-205 and the MAX Light Rail line run along the western border of Gateway Green.

Looking at this bucolic trail, one wouldn’t know that they’re standing at the former site of the old Rocky Butte Jail.

Off-road bicycle enthusiasts say the terrain at Gateway Green will make an ideal bike-oriented sport facility.

As you walk south on the central trail, the noise and bustle of city life seems to vanish.

How to get involved
There are many volunteer opportunities, now and into the future, to be involved with the Gateway Green project.

To learn more, see their official website: CLICK HERE. Beware, simply searching for “Gateway Green” could take you to a site for a Chicago-area park!

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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