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Monday, November 20, 2006

The skunks are back already

The sinister Portland bureaucrat shinola with the city's parks -- Mount Tabor in particular -- just keeps coming.

Here's an example: a City Council agenda item that recently surfaced as being on for the council meeting of the 29th. Now it's suddenly been moved up to Nov. 22nd -- this Wednesday -- so that it can be rammed through. It's supposedly an uneventful little item about maintenance, but it's the tip of whole secret-parks-reorganization iceberg. And it coincides with the recently exposed Mount Tabor Park giveaway (lease-away) that will close down the park maintenance and nursery operations at Tabor, and prime the parkland there for a Warner Pacific College gym and/or some condo developments. Notice of the rescheduling just went out earlier today:

City Hall - 1221 SW Fourth Avenue



Commissioner Dan Saltzman

*1583 Amend the FY 2006-07 budget to appropriate $650,000 to Portland
Parks and Recreation for immediate repairs to maintenance facilities

Apparently, this ordinance would fund repairs at three other maintenance facilities, but leave nothing for the Mount Tabor yard.

Hmmm, day before Thanksgiving, rush-rush jerk-around on the timing, less than 48 hours' notice... It's pretty clear to me that Zari Santner, Robin Grimwade, and the rest of the hacks running the Parks Bureau could care less what the public thinks about their backroom plans to reorganize the parks in secret. And those bureaucrats are affirmatively doing all that they can to keep the public from being heard on these vital issues.

Fireman Randy has already called bullsh*t on them once this month. Looks like he'll have to make that a weekly affair. Somebody has big plans for Portland's parks, and they obviously don't want Portland's residents to see them until it's too late to stop them.

UPDATE, 11/21, 12:27 a.m.: Jim Redden over at the Trib has a strong piece on the Tabor maintenance yard in today's paper.

Comments (22)

Bojack, PDC and City Council played the same game with Amendment 8 to the SoWhat Plan this summer. First, PDC called an "emergency meeting" without proper public notice; even League of Women Voters who had been involved in commenting of the Amendment didn't even receive notice. Then a few days later the City Council acted with a hearing and first reading without proper notification. And they both did this around a holiday. Looks like another similar scenario for Mt. Tabor.

What is the emergency? Isn't there some criteria for an emergency ordinance. This is so sick. You want to engage the public, Parks is running off of volunteer labor, but this arrogance is just sick.

Anybody circulating a Recall Saltzman petition yet?

The item was on the Council agenda posted last Friday. The previous evening, Thursday, the Citywide Parks Team meeting (a monthly gathering of parks volunteers from all over the city) was told the item would be on the November 29th agenda. At best, the bureau and the Commissioner's office are failing to communicate between themselves and with citizens.

The maintenance ordinance includes money for facilities repair at Gabriel Park. Anyone remember the controversy over siting the SW Community Center there? Wouldn't you think it would be prudent to invite the Neighborhood Association to participate in discussions of changes in that park... and every affected park?

And why is the city proposing to spend $650,000 on upgrades to existing buildings, before completing the facilities master plan -- which might determine that it would be more cost-effective to replace rather than renovate old structures?

The Commissioner and some city staff don't seem to understand that more than any other city asset except neighborhood involvement, citizens consider the parks "ours". We are not "customers" of the parks bureau, we are patrons, partners, and co-owners. We contribute $3m per year in volunteer hours donated to park activities, and we repeatedly support operating and capital improvement levies. We expect and deserve to be part of decision-making for parks.

Please keep up the pressure and keep shining a light on this shady deal. Dan Saltzman and his staff know a lot more than they are admitting.

Isn't there some criteria for an emergency ordinance.

City Charter Magic 8-Ball say: "An emergency ordinance shall have one public reading of its title or the effect thereof and may be enacted upon the date of its introduction, providing that it contains the statement that an emergency exists and specifies with distinctness the facts or reasons constituting such emergency."

an emergency exists

It's not about "emergency." It's about expediency.

This ordinance is actually the positive result of objections raised at the council hearing a couple of weeks back. I said then that I would support an expenditure of funds to upgrade work sites for parks bureau employees that disconnected that expenditure from having anything to do with the Mt. Tabor maintenance facility and any discussions to sell or lease the property.

The ordinance up for consideration this Wed. does allow maintenance facilities apart from the Mt. Tabor facility that have long needed upgrading for parks employees to happen in a straight forward manner without creating a basis for the future sale or lease of Mt Tabor property as did the ordinance I objected to a couple of weeks back.

Dan Saltzman and his staff know a lot more than they are admitting.

It's beyond "knowing." It doesn't take a genius to see that Danny Boy, the Scone, "Zere-Is-No-Plan" Zari, and their Aussie pal already have a grand plan signed, sealed, and delivered. They're just trying to see how many chess pieces they can move before anybody notices.

There's no reason that this latest ordinance cannot be properly noticed, and the affected park patrons allowed to give their views on some day other than the day before Thanksgiving. No reason except that full scrutiny of the details and their implications, and the patrons' responses, are not wanted.

Randy, why is there no money for the Tabor yard in this ordinance? Because you have agreed with Big Pipe to let it rot?

"Randy, why is there no money for the Tabor yard in this ordinance? Because you have agreed with Big Pipe to let it rot?"

I met with Dan after the acrimonious hearing a couple of weeks ago. I told him that the water bureau was also looking to upgrade its maintenance facilities and that we also wanted to decentralize the maintenance facility on Interstate Ave.

I suggested and he agreed to look at jointly developing a capital improvement project for Parks and Water where both sites -Interstate and Mt. Tabor- are jointly used by both water and parks.

This addresses some of the parks bureaus concerns by developing a new maintenance facility on the Mt Tabor site. It also addresses the water bureaus concern with having all of its maintenance facility located exclusively on the Interstate site.

He directed the parks bureau to work with David Shaff, Director of the water bureau, in developing a joint capital improvement project utilizing both sites for both bureaus.

I will not agree to developing any of the Mt. Tabor site if it includes any provision, condition or study to sell or lease any of the Mt. Tabor property.

I expect a joint parks/water bureau plan to be ready to implement in the next six months or so. Therefore, I believe spending any money on the Mt. Tabor site to be a waste of money.

Thanks for the lowdown. You will be knighted by this blog in due course.


So, let me get this straight: we went from the neighborhood possibly getting shared use of sports facilities, to having a "shared" Water Bureau maintenance facility...and this is a step up for the neighborhood?

Anybody here been to the Interstate maintenance facility? A "maintenance facility" yard is, by it's nature, not a pretty neighbor.

Please...let's tread thoughtfully and carefully about what we're proposing for this location. Let's review the Parks Bureau's apparent switch from growing their own, to buying their trees and well as other fundamental assumptions in this discussion. And lets not come back with a new "plan" arrived at behind yet again behind closed doors, but let's be sure we've got the neighborhoods at the table.

"...citizens consider the parks "ours". We are not "customers" of the parks bureau, we are patrons, partners, and co-owners."

Yes. Thank you Amanda Fritz.

This isn't an emergency ordinance.
This is emergency ordnance.

I've learned that in 2003 a citizen committee formed by the city water department was in support of plans to pay Parks to relocate the maintenance yard so the water department could use the site to store equipment while they built the underground reservoirs. Supposedly when the work was done, the committee recommended turning the site into playing fields for children, a plan that neighborhood activists rejected to keep out "outsiders."

The benefit of a city owned facility at the Mt. Tabor site is that the site remains in public hands...where it belongs.

Mt. Tabor also is, of course, a central piece in the water distribution system in Portland.

There are a number of activities that are currently located at the Interestate facility -besides heavy duty construction equipment- that could and should be moved to the Mt. Tabor site such as securtiy.

Victotia. You da bomb.


With the clout that you've accrued in Portland through this blog, I will certainly be disappointed if you don't make it to this rushed up, day before Thanksgiving meeting to vote some concern. I read about your frustration, but rarely see you take action. Go make your voice heard!

"Anybody circulating a Recall Saltzman petition yet?" I have not heard of anything materializing along these lines at this point in time, but I'm all over it if this talk of selling park land to a private party continues.

Okay, folks...

What we are looking at here is the result of "deferred maintenance". Redden's article states that the last upgrade of the Tabor Yard was in 1958. That's nearly 50 years. The best way to pay for building maintenance is to do the upkeep as you go along, not allow the structures to rot to the point that any "upgrade" means nearly starting over.

This is just the beginning of this kind of stuff. For the past 15 years, Portland has been slowly, but surely, starving its asset base. The quickest way to realize "budget savings" is to reduce upkeep. That's what they did. Now, we'll pay even more than we might have had to if we'd paid for adequate ongoing upkeep.

It only becomes an "emergency" if you screw it up in the first place.

Good job, Danny.

There is over $18MM in one-time-use money the City is currently figuring out how to divvy up...


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