Category Archives: news

Portland Tribune: City ready to replace crumbling Mt. Tabor facility

Council OKs plan that some think could be a candidate for Obama public works funds


The Portland Tribune, December 17, 2008

read story on Tribune site

Portland city commissioners agreed Wednesday to replace the decrepit central parks maintenance facility and nursery at Mt. Tabor Park.

The project, pegged to cost $63 million to $68 million, would upgrade the antiquated facilities used by more than 100 city employees to maintain the entire city parks system.

City Commissioner Nick Fish, who is about to take command of Portland Parks and Recreation, said the new facility is a perfect candidate for a “shovel-ready” public works project that might attract funding in an economic stimulus package promised by President-elect Barack Obama.

Mt. Tabor resident John Laursen, part of a large citizens committee that helped shape the project, described the working conditions as “like something out of Charles Dickens.” The complex of warehouse and office space on Southeast Division Street and 64th Avenue is considered unsafe and inefficient for workers and heavy equipment.

Use of the 13-acre complex dates back a century, when Mt. Tabor Park was created. It has been expanded in a hodge-podge fashion in the ensuing decades.

Some of the buildings lack proper heating and ventilation, and fail to meet modern standards for fire safety and access for people with disabilities. The complex is short on bathrooms and other amenities.

The project, designed by Opsis Architecture, adds a second driveway on Division Street so tractors and other heavy vehicles can safety enter and exit. It includes a new pedestrian and bicycle path into the park, via Division Street near 64th.

The project also includes a demonstration community garden at the adjoining central nursery, where the Parks Bureau grows plants that are later relocated to city parks.

The parks bureau had struck a largely secret deal in 2006 to sell the same site to Warner Pacific College, and seek a new locale for the maintenance yard. But the plan was dropped when Mt. Tabor neighbors got wind of the sale –– which city officials initially denied was under consideration.

Out of that controversy, the city agreed to hire a mediator to work with neighbors on a new plan, which involved rebuilding the maintenance yard and nursery at the existing site. The resulting design was vetted by a large work group made up of neighborhood activists, city employees and others.

“I’ve been enormously impressed by the conscientious efforts of the Parks Bureau to involve the public,” Fish said Wednesday, after the City Council approved the proposed project. “It’s long overdue that we gave (city employees) a workplace that is safe and inviting.”

The resolution adopted Wednesday requires the city to come up with a financing plan by June. One oft-mentioned plan is to put a parks bond before voters, and at least partially fund the maintenance yard with some of the proceeds.


City, neighbors scrap over Tabor land

Neighborhood Beat • Activists allege ulterior motive in changing land-use designation
The Portland Tribune, December 4, 2008

Read on Tribune site

You might call this story: Pesky Mount Tabor Park Neighbors vs. City Bureaucrats, Round III.

In recent years, neighborhood activists fended off a Portland Water Bureau plan to enclose Mount Tabor Park’s open-air reservoirs. Then they foiled a Portland Parks & Recreation deal — which parks officials initially denied existed — to sell off the dilapidated parks maintenance facility and nursery at Mount Tabor to Warner Pacific College.

Now, after a city-hired mediator helped mend fences with neighbors, a citizen planning group has blessed a $60 million-plus project to rebuild the park maintenance yard and nursery rather than relocate them. The consensus design heads for City Council approval Dec. 17.

But the same activists who sniffed out the Warner Pacific deal say they smell a rat.

Though those activists support the proposed new maintenance yard, they are raising a stink about the city’s change, in the midst of project planning, of its land-use designation for the maintenance yard, a complex of workshops, warehouse and other space.

They fear the city’s reclassification of the maintenance yard from a “nonconforming use” to an “accessory use” was designed to make it easier for the city to make future changes on the site — or other park sites in the future — without a citizen review.

“The park’s more threatened now than it was before this process,” said Shannon Loch, who lives across the street from the nursery.

“It has traditionally, for years and years, been considered nonconforming,” said neighbor Mark Bartlett, “but it’s politically convenient to consider it accessory because it allows anything to go on there.”

Mount Tabor facilities need costly face-lift

Public invited to view design for maintenance yard, nursery revamp

Plans for an estimated $80 million overhaul of Portland Parks & Recreation’s central maintenance yard and nursery at Mount Tabor Park will be presented to the public Nov. 15.

The design selected by a planning group would rebuild the yard and nursery at the park, located in Southeast Portland. It will be discussed at an open house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gigibar, a coffeehouse at Southeast 60th Avenue and Division Street, near where the facilities are located.

The yard and nursery are more than 100 years old. Many of the maintenance buildings are in poor shape. Most have aging electrical connections and water lines. Some are leaning and held up by cables. Many are hard to heat in the winter. The nursery also is spread over several locations, making inventory control difficult.

The preferred design would replace all of the substandard buildings with new ones, add storage capacity and consolidate the nursery on a “long block” that parallels Division Street. The design incorporates sustainable building techniques, including green roofs, photovoltaics and storm-water treatments.

Two presentations and question-and-answer sessions will take place at 10 a.m. and noon. Representatives of the Opsis Architecture design team that is assisting the bureau will be present.

The design is expected to be presented to the City Council for approval in December.

The condition of the yard and nursery became a public issue after neighbors learned the bureau was considering selling 8.5 acres of park property to adjacent Warner Pacific College in 2006.

The controversy resulted in a series of mediated discussions between bureau staff and neighbors that led to the creation a planning group that is updating the Mount Tabor Master Plan, including the yard and nursery.

Funding for the project has not yet been identified. The preliminary cost estimate is likely to change as the plan and work schedule is finalized.

Reader survey: Mt. Tabor is #1 favorite park

By Shannon L. Cheesman • • July 29, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. – In an informal survey last week, we asked our readers to tell us which Portland park is their favorite.

Here are the top three:

  1. Mt. Tabor Park, with its great trails for walkers, runners and cyclists, off leash areas for dogs and natural scenic beauty came in at #1.
  2. Forest Park came in a close second. “It’s so close to downtown, but there are parts of the park that make you feel like you’re nowhere near a city,” David Peterson wrote in his response.
  3. Tryon Creek State Park came in third. You might remember that this is the location of the big red box in the woods.

A Peak Vacation Day

Laura Oppenheimer • The Oregonian • Saturday, July 05, 2008

Summer did its best to skewer my inner traveler.

Gas prices hit $4 a gallon, and airfares climbed. Flying to a friend’s wedding in Louisiana would cost nearly $700, so I turned down the invitation. I felt trapped in Portland.

Then triple-digit temperatures descended. Last weekend, my neighborhood grocery store moved flowers inside. Dogs drooped and drooled on the sidewalk, waiting for their people to emerge from the coffee shop. I lay in my century-old home, motionless at midnight, sweat dribbling down my stomach.

But I had a plan: a day at the park.

Continue reading

Water: No clear answer

Water: No clear answer

City might need to build another buried reservoir at Powell Butte

Jim Redden • The Portland Tribune • June 19, 2008

At city Commissioner Randy Leonard’s direction, the Portland Water Bureau is drawing up plans to comply with the newest federal clean-water rules.

Unless the bureau can circumvent the rules, the plans could require the city to spend millions of dollars on a new water treatment plant, possibly located at the base of the large reservoir in the Bull Run watershed where Portland gets most of its drinking water.

The bureau also is studying building a second underground 50-million-gallon reservoir at the Powell Butte Nature Park, where one such reservoir already is located.

[read more…]

also, see this Tribune editorial on the same subject (“Water planning must go forward”)

Council to consider Opsis contract

Now that City Council has approved a budget that includes full funding for our project, the next big step will be for them to approve our recommended contract with Opsis, the architecture firm selected to oversee the redevelopment of the Mt. Tabor Central Yard and Nursery. They will consider the contract this coming Wednesday, June 11.