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City ready to roll out parks bond cash, projects

A baker's dozen of items set for first phase


TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - The Grant pool mechanical system is one of the projects that Portland Parks and Recreation's bond will fund.Portland Parks & Recreation is ready to get rolling with its $68 million in voter-approved bond funds. The Portland City Council will consider an ordinance on Wednesday, April 1 to authorize its first issuance of up to $29 million in general obligation bonds for the first phase of parks improvement work, to happen over the next two years.

The ordinance will also appoint an oversight committee for the parks bond projects, to include one appointee from each commissioner’s office.

“Obviously, voters are aware Parks will watch their money carefully,” Fritz says.

The schedule for the first phase of work will be fairly straightforward, Fritz says.

It will include 13 projects — most being urgent repairs like the mechanical systems at the Grant Pool and the Couch Park playground, which had to be closed due to safety issues.

That community has a discussion underway about whether they’d like to fundraise to build more than just a basic park.

Planning is also underway for repairs at Pioneer Courthouse Square. After the first phase of work, Fritz says about $20 million will be left for projects in the second phase. A public engagement planning process for that would begin in fall 2016.

But there's still a huge gap in deferred parks maintenance, which Fritz says will be up for discussion during the city's budget process.

“We have a list of $300 million in fixes that need to be made,” Fritz says. “We definitely want engagement from the community to help prioritize what should be done in the second phase. By no means does this cover all the need.”

Fritz says she’s grateful to voters for recognizing the needs and supporting the parks whenever asked. “I think people understand we just need more funding,” she says.

For more information, check the website www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/65128.

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