Last week's flap over the secret talks about the proposed sale of parts of Portland's Mount Tabor Park to private interests has apparently shaken some of the rank and file employees at the Parks Bureau. The bureau chief, Zari Santner (paid $126,789 in 2005), reportedly sent this e-mail around on Wednesday evening:
Dear Colleagues,No mention of that "memo of understanding," signed last August, that called for the yard to be sold to Warner Pacific by Nov. 15. Also, no mention of the emerging Saltzman-Santner-Grimwade plan to privatize the parks and kick many of the recipients of the e-mail off the city payroll. I don't think they're "all on the same page" on that one at all.
I know many of you have concerns about the news coverage concerning Mt. Tabor Yard and the issues raised at the City Council meeting today. To keep us all on the same page, I want to provide some background, clarify some issues, and let you know what's next.
This afternoon, we presented to Council our Feasibility Study for Development of Service Zones Facilities (including City Nature.) The report includes a range of options - from simply addressing basic building, energy, health and safety code requirements to making system-wide improvements that will increase operational efficiency and expand our capacity to meet current and future demands.
Two of the options address all of our facilities, including the Central Maintenance Facility. One option looks at developing a new central maintenance facility at Mt. Tabor Yard. The other option looks at developing a new central facility elsewhere. Both options represent similar levels of investment.
I've outlined below today's request to Council and their Response.
Council approval of $650,000 to address our most critical health and safety code issues at three maintenance facilities: Gabriel Park, the Urban Forestry Barn, and the 136th Ave. facility.
Council was supportive of making this investment, but asked that we return next week with a resolution clarifying this request.
PP&R work with the Office of Management and Finance to develop a detailed funding and phasing strategy for the two options that include all of our facilities, including the Central Maintenance Facility, and bring back a final recommendation for Council's approval. PP&R and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement develop a public process to discuss the future of Mt. Tabor Yard and ask Council to approve that process before it is implemented in the early spring.
Council did not respond directly to these recommendations except to clearly state their belief that a public process is critical. At this time, no specific timeline has been established.
What about Warner Pacific College?
If PP&R eventually decides to relocate the central maintenance facility, Warner Pacific College has expressed interest in assessing the feasibility of purchasing Mt. Tabor Yard for development of sports fields if an agreement can be developed that would be beneficial to the college, PP&R, and the community. In a memorandum of understanding with the college, PP&R agreed to work with Warner Pacific to investigate whether such a proposal would be feasible for either party. At the same time, Warner Pacific agreed to work with the community to develop any proposal they would make to the City. PLEASE UNDERSTAND, PP&R HAS NO AGREEMENT WITH WARNER PACIFIC FOR SALE OR LEASE OF MT. TABOR YARD.
The process for public discussion regarding the future of Mt. Tabor Yard will take into consideration any proposal from Warner Pacific College if the college remains interested in the site.
This is a complex issue and at times you may hear conflicting information. If you have questions, or need to respond to citizen questions, please call Gay Greger at x35113.
Please know that providing safe and pleasant facilities for our staff remains one of my highest priorities. Many of you have been waiting a long time for improvements in your working conditions. Commissioner Saltzman and I remain committed to this goal. I'll keep you informed and involved as we move forward.