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Spring Garden Park to spring to life

Major windfall funds development of park to serve crucial need in the area


Spring Garden Park, a nearly 5-acre park tucked away in Southwest Portland’s Multnomah neighborhood, consists of a rather steep hill covered in wild grass starting at Southwest Spring Garden Street and ending with a so-called nature play area, established in 2011, at the top off Dolph Court.

But in June, 15 years after the park was originally acquired, Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz announced that the city would be nearly $1.5 million in System Development Funds, or SDCs to fund significant development of the park over the next few years.

The city will be using revenue from development in Portland (known as System Development Charges, or SDCs for the park’s development.

The new park is planned to have:

• a picnic area and lawn

• a new playground and places to sit

• park paths for walking

• a grassy meadow with native grasses for picnics or free and unstructured play

• new trees for shade, cleaner air, rest and reflection park entry points with signs

Spring Garden Park is one of nine parcels in Southwest, and was ranked by Southwest Neighborhoods Inc. (SWNI) as a top priority for development when revenue from SDCs became available. According to Mark Ross, Portland Parks & Recreation public information officer it will “provide a neighborhood park to 1,359 nearby households, including 128 homes which currently have no access to a park or natural area within the Parks 2020 goal of ½ mile.”

The park was chosen largely for its geographic location; as it stands now, Interstate 5, Barbur Boulevard or Capitol Highway — all major thoroughfares — must be crossed in order to reach a natural area or park in the general area.

“To the neighbors that live right around this rea, the distance is really tangible,” said Lori Howell, co-chairwoman of the gorup Friends of Spring Garden Park.Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO: LORI HOWELL - Benjamin Howell, son of Friends of Spring Garden Park co-chairwoman Lori Howell, playing in Spring Garden Park.

“Within the area Spring Garden Park is located, there’s a pretty intense diverse neighborhood in there, and they don’t have that access,” said Teri Davis, Portland Parks & Recreation West Zone manager.

For Howell, this has been a long time coming.

“When we bought our house and moved to the neighborhood in 2008 (the park) was one of the selling points,” she recalled. “There’s the potential for a park … even back then, it was like, ‘There could be a great park in the neighborhood.’”

Friends of Spring Garden Park co-chairwoman Sara Childers said there is a crucial need for this park to be developed.

“I teach high school science, and I see this all the time: students that live in Portland have never been to the coast or don’t really know what a wetland looks like, physically; don’t know what it seems like or looks like or what animals you’d find there, so to have a place in walking distance for our kids where they can go see animals and birds and native plants in addition to the play that they get here, I think only make them have a stronger sense of place and a stronger sense of wellbeing and better connecting.”

She added: “It’s an experience. Kids are not able to connect in the same way that they might have when there are more open spaces nearby.”

Howell agreed. “Our kids are desperate for places to explore nature,” she said.

This fall, a Portland Parks & Recreation Manger is expected to meet with SWNI, members of Spring Garden Park and other community stakeholders and share with them the timeline for the proeject, which will include further design work beginning next year, and construction beginning in 2016.

In the meantime, Howell and Childers said that as long as they continue to see progress toward making this plan a reality, they will be happy.

Overall, Childers said, “It’s a great opportunity for our community.

“We’re really excited to see it come to fruition.”


By Drew Dakessian
Editor
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