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Two new parks to break ground in East Portland


COURTESY: 2.INK STUDIO/PORTLAND PARKS & RECREATION - A design rendering of Loowit Park shows gathering spaces for users of all ages on 16 acres in Northeast Portland. East Portland residents will soon have two new places to gather, play, walk, bike, garden, take their children and dogs and otherwise find peace in nature.

Portland Parks & Recreation announced this week that construction will kick off this spring for two long-awaited green spaces in park-deficient areas: Gateway Discovery Park and Loowit View Park.

The first will be a new gateway into Northeast Portland's Gateway neighborhood, east of Interstate 205; the second is 2.5 miles away, adjacent to Shaver Elementary School in Northeast Portland's Argay neighborhood.

Together, the newly named parks will serve about 1,800 households that don't currently have ready access to a park or natural area.

"These two new parks represent a significant step in addressing historic inequities in park facilities in east Portland,” says parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “All over Portland, people are telling me, ‘Provide parks for people who don’t have one.’ There are inequities in every neighborhood, and insufficient resources to correct them all. Loowit View Park and Gateway Discovery Park continue the city’s determination to correct the disparities in east Portland."

A playground for everyone

COURTESY: PLACE STUDIO, LLC/PORTLAND PARKS & RECREATION - A design rendering of Gateway Discovery Park in Northeast Portland shows flexible spaces for various uses, including a Harper's Playground site for children of all abilities. At Northeast Halsey Street between Northeast 104th and 106th avenues, Gateway Discover Park will be nearly four acres, built in partnership with the Portland Development Commission.

Park leaders see it as a new living room for the Gateway neighborhood, featuring accessible spaces and activities for all ages, including a plaza for events, festivals and farmers' markets.

Flexible green spacs will accommodate picnic areas, nature play and accessible playground features as the site of the city's second inclusive, barrier-free playground.

The nonprofit Harper's Playground participated on Gateway Discover Park's project advisory committee and advised on the inclusive design.

Construction is estimated at $5.2 million, which includes $4.2 million from parks system development charges (not general fund tax dollars) and $1 million from the PDC.

“The name ‘Gateway Discovery Park’ invokes the same exciting sense of adventure that awaits in our entire neighborhood,” says Linda Sanchez, a member of the park’s naming committee.

The Gateway Area Business Association "shares the excitement of east Portland neighbors for the amazing new gathering space coming soon," she adds.

A park with a view

The second, much larger park will be at Northeast 126th Ave and Beech Street. Previously referred to as the Beech property, Loowit (loo-WIT) View Park will include views of the vista of Loowit (the native American name for Mt. St. Helens, a youth sports field, a full-size basketball court and a covered teen area with a climbing structure, two ping pong tables and a group seating area.

A skate park is under discussion. Other features include accessible play and picnic areas, shelters, a restroom, pedestrian and bike paths, parking, community gardens and a fenced off-leash dog area.

"The name ‘Loowit View Park’ holds meaning on many different levels," says Cary Watters, a member of the Tlingit Tribe and the park naming committee. "The fact that this park's name is a native (Chinook Wawa) word, and that it honors the traditional way in which our people named places, is a huge step forward in healing — not only for the native community, but for the land and the at-large community."

Construction is estimated at $7.8 million, from parks system development charges.

Fritz dedicated the parks SDC funds (revenue from new construction development in Portland) to the two projects in 2014.

In January 2015, the parks bureau launched the community design process for the parks; the designs were finalized last summer and both are slated to break ground this spring.

Parks staff solicited park names last fall from neighbors through public meetings, emails and web comments.

Among the participants were volunteers and residents with the Argay Terrace Neighborhood Association, Gateway Area Business Association, Hazelwood Neighborhood Association and the Parkrose Heights Neighborhood Association.

“It is extremely exciting to see these park projects continue,” says parks Director Mike Abbaté. "A key milestone in the development of a new project is the name that the park will be known by for generations to come. We are so grateful to the naming committee, and to the Project Advisory Committee who, along with City staff, are guiding the development of these sites. Loowit View and Gateway Discovery Parks will be memorable into the future."

Despite the two new parks, the bureau has a list of unfunded maintenance needs of $250 million over the next 10 years.

SDCs are restricted to expanding capacity only, and can't be used to maintain or repair existing facilities.

Parks leaders say the list of additional parks projects — demanded by the city's growing neighborhoods — comes to another $472 million over the next 10 years.

”In east Portland, two out of every five households do not have easy access to a city park," Fritz says. "That is in stark contrast to the rest of Portland, where four out of every five households live within a half-mile of a park or natural area."