More from Saltzman's smoke-filled room
The gossip swirling around the pending sell-off of part of Mount Tabor Park in Southeast Portland gets hotter by the day. A reader forwards this eye-opening e-mail message that appears to be from Cascade Anderson Geller, a defender of that park:
According to our best research efforts, given the documents that have been made available to us by the City, it appears that there are well-developed plans to relocate and sell Mt. Tabor Park Maintenance Yard. The apparent plan is to discontinue all nursery operations and dispose of nursery lands adjacent to the Yard. Although we saw one design to demolish all buildings and rebuild on the existing maintenance yard, there is apparently no plan to continue the tree nursery and plant propagation services.A secret memo of understanding with a private party, selling off parkland? A complete re-do of the park structure in the city, without meaningful public discussion? So tram. So Saltzman. He didn't learn much from the reservoir cover fiasco, but then again, neither did the voters who re-elected him. He's "progressive," he knows how to play the game, his family's rich, and so he's running things. His buddy's about to start doing the same over at the county. So kiss your parkland goodbye. Condos, here we come.
Many components of the strategy to dispose of the maintenance yard appear to be either completed or well along in the process. These include: zoning and comprehensive plan changes, including removing the historical designation afforded by the National Register of Historic Places listing, environmental assessments, surveying, etc.
There is also a Memorandum of Understanding that has been drawn up between Warner Pacific College and the City of Portland. Although officials say this agreement is non-binding, and apparently is unsigned, at this point, it calls for the City and the college "to enter into a purchase and sale agreement no later than 15 November 2006."
On Wednesday, November 1, 2006, Portland Parks and Recreation (PPR) will bring before the City Council the final draft of a feasibility study, called Facilities Maintenance Report, to City Council. A "time certain" has not yet been established, but the estimate is that it should be presented about noontime. Although we have yet to see the full report, we have seen portions of it and discussed aspects of it with PPR officials. This report includes information about Mt. Tabor Park along with other sites in the City. We have been informed by Commissioner Saltzman's office that the report should be available for review tomorrow, Wednesday, October 25.
The report calls for the reorganization of the maintenance facilities throughout the city. This includes a series of buildings to be constructed in the newly established park zones throughout the City.
Some buildings will be constructed on open space in existing parks that currently don't have maintenance facilities. For example, it appears there's a proposal for an approximately 4000 square foot building to be constructed in Gabriel Park, a huge facility (maybe 40,000 sq. ft) at Washington Park, something at sites on SE McLoughlin Blvd., SE 136th Ave. and NE 21st and Pacific. The report apparently also makes a request for $650,000 to deal with "life and safety" improvements. This includes possible repair of immediate needs, such as, “water leaks at Mt. Tabor Park Maintenance Yard, etc.”
The feasibility study appears to be a part of the total restructuring of the Parks Department that is taking place internally. Citizens, other than the appointed Parks Board, apparently have not been involved in this restructuring process. The creation of zones and the redistribution of services appear to be part of the effort that PPR is making to create "park districts" and do away with the bureau per se and the oversight of an elected commissioner to be replaced by a board of some type.
At least since July, 2005, Warner Pacific College has been represented in their bid to purchase the south facing 7 - 13.5 acres of Mt. Tabor Park from the City by former city commissioner, Jim Francesconi, who was in charge of the parks bureau. Apparently, one member of the current Portland Parks Board also sits on the Warner Pacific College board of directors.
We would recommend that all parks' supporters attend the City Council meeting on November 1, 2006. When we receive word about the "time certain" of the agenda item, PPR Facilities Maintenance Report, we will post it publicly. At this point, the assumed time was about noon.
There will be an opportunity for public questions and comments at the City Council meeting after PPR’s presentation. For more information, please contact Commissioner Dan Saltzman: 503.823.4151
The meeting will be at Portland City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, Oregon.
If you would like to comment to the Mayor and your City Commissioners, here are their email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (parks bureau commissioner)
The zoning of the system is definitely a done deal. Here's a map to which the city sent a link around on Thursday -- for the first time, to my knowledge.