Square planners still listening
- Jeanie Senior
- Portland Tribune - News
Those looking at a downtown ice rink want more feedback than they got in several public workshops
After staging six public workshops to hear comments on its proposed $10 million seasonal ice rink for Pioneer Courthouse Square, the square's board of directors still wants to find out how people really feel about the rink.
A majority of the people who attended the workshops didn't like the proposal, which calls for a 7,200-square-foot rink on the square's plaza for four months every year, from late November into March.
Greg Goodman, president of the square's board of directors, said this week that it's probably not yet time to make a decision on the rink proposal.
'The reality is É we heard from a very small group of people,' Goodman said at a special board meeting. And the reality of it is, it's a community square.'
The 25-member board's executive committee will meet in a closed session today to discuss a course of action.
'I think we need to do some more listening, some more outreach,' he conceded. 'Maybe polling.'
Four ice rink opponents who were invited to Tuesday's board meeting assured board members that opposition to the rink is widespread. The group included architect Dave Soderstrom; former Portland Planning Commission President John Bentley; landscape architect Doug Macy; and Gail Martin Rutherford, whose late husband, Will, led the team that designed the square.
'I have to be frank, I have not had anybody come up to me and tell me what a great idea this is,' Bentley said.
Ice rink boosters, including Goodman, see the rink as a way to add activity to the square Ñ and attract people downtown Ñ during the winter.
Zimmer Gunsul Frasca architect Greg Baldwin, whose firm has designed a rink that would be topped with six enormous inside-out umbrellas to keep out the rain, told the board that the project is a significant one.
'There's a kind of leadership being exhibited that I thought Portland had lost,' Baldwin said.
Macy and Soderstrom both said they think the commercial aspect of the rink, coupled with the four months it would be in the square, contradict the square's intent as a place for all of the people, all of the time.
As for the winter months, they said, let the square rest and fulfill its function as open space.
Macy said he worries that the square, although it's not the only city park downtown, is being forced to carry a disproportionate load. He also said he doesn't oppose an ice rink somewhere downtown, just at the square.
'My concern is, we're trying to overlay a good idea on another good idea, and I think you end up with a bad idea,' Macy said.
Some board members said they think that a rink at the square is a good idea. Stanley Geffen, for instance, said it's possible that there's a silent majority of support for the proposal.