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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 20, 2007 8:36 AM. The previous post in this blog was Second shoe drops. The next post in this blog is Sticker shock. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sing around the Maypole with Homer and Dike

Big news this week for the SoWhat Poodle Poop Park -- the Shangri-la that's already cost the City of Portland well north of $7 million (probably more like $9 million) just to get 2 acres of flat land down where the unsold condos are slowly morphing into unrented apartments. The park is now one step closer to becoming something more than a patch of plain grass where the perfectly good storage place used to be. Under increasing pressure from the new denizens of the parking-starved construction zone from hell exciting emerging neighborhood, the Parks Bureau is now asking interested parties to bid on creating designs to construct an actual park. No official word on how much more it's all going to cost, or where the dough is going to come from, but the fantasy is to have it ready for the urban pioneers to enjoy by mid-2009.

The city's invitation to bid doesn't say much about what should go into the facility -- that's being left largely up to the designers who submit proposals. All that's specified is that the new park continue the Park Bureau's recent track record of design excellence. There's some talk of a water feature, but that's about the only hint we get of what our additional millions are going to buy by way of an exercise yard for the inmates in the Bay Area refugee towers.

Hey, how about a playground for -- you know -- kids? Ha! Ha! Only kidding, this is SoWhat. Kids will probably be shot on sight. Given all the out-of-place skyscrapers that are going to surround the park, I suppose that real grass is also out of the question. Maybe some kind of artificial turf made out of the leftovers from canola diesel production?

If it were up to me, I'd have a paintball range set up down on the end where the aerial tram [rim shot] goes over.

One interesting revelation in the city's latest announcement: among the infrastructure frills that we're mortgaging our future for down there are some fancy-schmancy street lights that will be appearing after a while. "Wooden poles providing lighting for the site currently are also temporary and will be removed during actual park construction, to be replaced with permanent lighting fixtures that promote the Marine/Industrial image of the District." Thank heaven! I'd hate to see just plain old street lights.

Anyway, if developing parks is your thing, the city's official announcement is here. If you sign up for it, you can get the whole 48-page proposal. If you're not that interested, feel free to sit this one out for now. It's just a matter of time before Randy Gragg pops up in Portland Monthly to explain to us all how things ought to be down there. You can read about it in the checkout line at the Safeway.

Comments (11)

According to some of the information coming out of SoWhat's URAC, the "Central Park" was to have been completed approx. in 2005. Sorry, they missed on that.

Jack, your estimate of $9M just for the present raw 2 block expanse is about right: $7.2M for the land, over $1.75M for demo of Storage and site cleanup, and grading, ground cover, sidewalks, etc. This doesn't include the PDC, Parks, and other bureau staff costs, nor the debt service. The number is probably even higher.

I think there are several reasons for having "bid proposals" that do not have a prescribed program of what is to be provided. One, this kind of bidding allows the PDC/Parks to pick the construction co. that they want without scoring too many points on just the costs-it is a means of picking one of the Mafia Firms; and I can tell you who it will probably be. Secondly, PDC/Parks doesn't know what the Park should be, even though there has been imput from the neighborhood assn., residents in SoWhat, and longtime promises, imput from all the 15 years of North Macadam committees.

One important aspect about the Central Park is there have been formal requests that significant history of SoWhat be honored. The Johnson cabin, the first building in Portland was sited just up the rise from the park. William Johnson and his Indian wife and two children built the cabin in 1842 where several Indian trails converged. One went east across the Willamette, one went south to Oswego Lake and to the Willamette Falls, and one went north to the Clearing (the future downtown Portland). These trails became the future I-5, OR26 and OR43. And to this day SoWhat sits at the convergence of almost all the major transportation routes of our whole region. Johnson heritage should be significantly recognized.

The street lights are special designed modernistic metal poles with elaborate bends and flairs, costing over $4500 each, and that's a price from three years ago. Not including installation. And we all know how with steel prices going up that the cost could quadruple like the steel price increases caused the Tram to quadruple. It is interesting that we tear down, obliterate the "marine/industrial" image and history of SoWhat, then we spend like crazy in lite pples to pay homage to the areas history. I do not see any of the history/sense of place in what SoWhat is becoming.

I take it that you were being sarcastic about Tanner Springs -- you hate it (?) I took my two young girls there a couple of weeks back (being an eastsider, I don't get to the Pearl that often), and they liked it a lot. Granted, it's a little more "hands off" than I might like for kids ... can't wander through the native vegetation or get in the water, but given its close proximity to Jamison Square -- which is a great mixed-use, kid friendly space, I liked the mix quite a lot.

Perhaps it's just a different world view, that those who can afford these condos don't deserve a park. I disagree with that idea -- the City is better if parks of all kinds spring up all over the city. Particularly since this park is right next to the Springwater Corridor (it will be nice when you don't have to run through construction zones), it should benefit more than just those who live within a couple blocks of it.

Particularly since this park is right next to the Springwater Corridor (it will be nice when you don't have to run through construction zones), it should benefit more than just those who live within a couple blocks of it.

Springwater Corridor is the East bank of the river - yes?

Also isn't the river enough of a "water feature?

"I take it that you were being sarcastic about Tanner Springs"

Curious where did your kids play besides cement surfaces? That is pretty much how all the new parks are is cement or keep-ou zones now. Not particularily kid-friendly.

I would have thought the river would be a nice water feature, but of course I don't think the river is or will be visible.
As for the Pearl "parks" one is not supposed to be in the Tanner Park, just walk around the block! Personally I wouldn't let any small kid go anywhre near the grass at Jamison Sq., as that is THE puppy potty place for the area. Many of the Pearl dog owners do not pick up after their pets. Not long ago I even saw a used 'disposable' diaper that had been left behind on the grass.
It's mixed use alright!
More inner city parks would be great but they don't make the developers any real money. They just get a few tax or FAR(air rights) for them.

A brief history of the supposedly "major park" for SoWhat: In the early drawings/proposals before city council the Central Park was to be an enhanced 2 acre park surrounding the present Zidell barge slip area on the Willamette. In the toxic cleanup of the slip, the "bay" was to be enlarged with the surrounding waterfront park making a strong connection to the river. That went by the wayside, then a block way to the south but with views to the river was shown on drawings during Council hearings for all the amendments added to the Agreement. But Homer and Co. owned the block.

After the SoWhat Agreement was signed, Homer persuaded the City/PDC that he wanted to develop his block and have PDC condemn the Storage Blocks on SW Moody. Condemnation threats were thrown. Homer will realize MILLIONS for the once river front park, and by PDC waiting several years in this chess game to acquire just the land for the park, the $7.2M Storage land price escalated because of all the improvements in the district and inflation.

So now the public pays for and gets a Park on busy SW Moody, with no river connection, near the noise of I-5, Macadam, and a totally urban, high density environment; and five years late or more. Plus, in all the earlier planning, SoWhat was to have four parks that were usable as recreation spaces. Now we seem to be down to only one-and serving 15 thousand people. This is planning?

Everything was planned except the money. And now they're out of it -- in fact, way past out of it.

The source of money for this and other fun and exciting City projects: cut services to the majority of citizens. Here in my neighborhood, Linnton, the City doesn't sweep the streets. Since there are no curbs (too narrow, no room) our leaders declared the streets self cleaning. So I have to be really careful what with all the gravel, blackberries growing into the roadway, etc.

All over it's the same: transfer services from the majority to small, special interest groups. Even camping on Mt. Hood may be cut back. (see

"Everything was planned except the money"

Don't forget the $100M to fix the I-5 and other road access to the site. Gee, that's going to be an awful lot of parking meter money they have to generate to pay for this.

I love the [rimshot] effect every time the Tram is mentioned.

Here is a sound effect to go with it:

Photo of Jamison Park in the Pearl District for those of you who don't know what kids do on cement.


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