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Friday, May 30, 2008

After the mediator is gone

The uneasy truce between the City of Portland and the neighbors of Mount Tabor Park is holding, at least for now. But talk of a new road into the park is causing some serious friction. First the road, then the apartments -- so fear the neighbors.

I don't blame them a bit for worrying about that. If not hounded every step of the way, the city would gladly figure out some way to sell off more of that park to developers to keep its shaky financial ship afloat for another day or two.

Comments (8)

Thanks for the mention, Jack. The road issue has brought up a little tension, but I don't think it, in itself, is likely to be the most controversial issue going forward. Not by a long shot.

I hope anyone interested in this issue will come join us tomorrow for our first public event, the Tabor Yard Day. It's 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, at the south entrance to the park (64th and Lincoln). (PDF of flyer)

We'll have booths set up, and lots of folks on hand to talk about the issues we're facing. There will also be tours of the maintenance yard, which should highlight some of the more important aspects of our work.

-Pete Forsyth
member, Mt. Tabor Central Yard and Nursery Planning Group
our blog
PP&R home page for our project

Oops, I tried posting here before, but maybe my comment had too many links and got caught by your spam filter?

I appreciate your ongoing attention to this vital issue, Jack.

I have to say, I don't think the road into the park will be the most contentious issue going forward. As I explain in my comments on the Tribune web site, there's really no decision, or even draft decision, on the table, so those getting worked up about this are a bit premature. There will be other issues of vital importance covered, like whether major big urban forestry operations currently housed at Delta Park move to Mt. Tabor (which, notably, would require rezoning to allow for industrial use), whether the horticultural legacy of the Olmsteds and our parks system survives in any recognizable form or is outsourced to private nurseries, whether city jobs that are union-based are replaced with non-union contracts with private contractors, etc. etc.

Your readers should be aware of our own blog, too, which is a good complement to the PP&R web page. It's a bit sparse, but does include some important documents that are not available on the City's web site.



The spam catcher did hold you back, and I hadn't noticed. It's a long story, but both your comments are welcome and now appear. I am sure readers will tolerate the redundancy.

OK, thanks for letting that through and for the explanation -- have a great weekend!

Not long ago the neighbors of Mt. Tabor killed the plan to decentralize parks maintenance. Now they want to kill the plan to make the provision of parks maintenance more efficient by improving access to/from the maintenance yard. The parks belong to all of us. This is yet another NIMBY movement that protects a special interest at the expense of everyone else.

If one wants to study the tensions between efficient government decision making, City wide consultancy "processes", and local neighborhood consultancy processes, you couldn't pick a better subject. Without agreeing or disagreeing with Frank it's clear that the Mt Tabor folks have been given veto power over a discussion that probably should be had done Citywide. (If at all, depending on where you come down on the balance between efficient decision making and that need to consult with the citizens on decisions).

Greg C

Frank, you're confusing two groups. One group (of which I'm a member) arose, largely out of the Mt. Tabor neighborhood association, in response to the discovery that PP&R was deep in negotiations to sell the Maintenance Yard and Nursery to Warner Pacific College, without public notification. While plans to decentralize park maintenance have drawn a lot of interest during our process, to say that we "killed" them is entirely inaccurate. If we "killed" anything, it was a plan to divest of valuable real estate and infrastructure without public input.

Our group has gone to great lengths to communicate the importance of the issues we're considering to the entire city, to recruit committee members from outside the immediate neighborhood, and to keep the focus on issues of broad importance: the maintenance and horticultural services for all parks, the working conditions for parks employees.

The subject of Steve Law's story in the Tribune is entirely separate from our group. He is admittedly focused on the issue that he perceives as being most significant to his own residence and neighbors. I guess you can put the NIMBY label on him if you want, but I regard him as a stakeholder with a legitimate concern. There are many stakeholders who are not immediate neighbors, and we've gone to great lengths to reach out to them as well.

If you'd like to get involved, we have a meeting Monday evening at 6:30, and every first and third Monday. The public is invited to all these meetings.

Greg, I'm not sure where you get the idea that anyone has veto power. And yes, I suppose it would be more efficient to allow well-connected and well-funded interests to run the show with no analysis or deliberation. From a certain point of view. But not if you're trying to ensure a healthy parks system for decades to come. Parks' primary purpose is to serve the public, so plans that impact the parks need to be accessible to public input.

I posted a pretty detailed rundown of my thoughts on the Mt. Tabor planning processon my personal blog, in case anybody's intersted.

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