Tag Archives: Tribune

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

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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

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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.

Cut trees spur outrage

Neighbors decry tree cuts along MLK for house move

Mariah Summers • The Portland Tribune • June 30, 2008,

Nearly three blocks of street trees were removed from Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard this weekend to move a house from Northeast Broadway to Northeast Thompson.

Neighbors were upset by the removal of the trees and confused as to how the city could have permitted such action, especially given its commitment to sustainable development.

“I feel that the city should not have permitted this move,” said Michael Russell, a resident of the area. “We are a city that values ‘green’ themed agendas and cutting those trees down goes against our city’s value system and so much we have worked toward.”

According to the Portland Bureau of Development Services, which oversees the permits issued for home moves, the bureau received a permit from the Portland Department of Urban Forestry to remove all existing street trees in the area except for two.

Later, the department issued a subsequent permit to remove more trees, which the Bureau of Development Services said it was was not familiar when reached today.

The Department of Urban Forestry could not be reached for comment.

Budget approved for planning process

Compromise city budget approved
Update – Disputes over finances, development agency resolved

By Jennifer Anderson • Portland Tribune • June 4, 2008

With little fanfare, the Portland City Council on Wednesday morning approved the city’s proposed budget for fiscal year that begins on July 1.

Butman said despite the confusion and delays, the final proposed document addresses many of the concerns citizens expressed in the original budget hearing, such as giving financial support for the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, the Portland Tennis Center and the Mt. Tabor Park master plan.

Mt. Tabor Park access plan stirs neighborhood

Mt. Tabor Park access plan stirs neighborhood
Walking path or new road? Answer to that question is still being discussed

By Steve Law • The Portland Tribune • May 30, 2008

Changes are afoot at the southern edge of Mt. Tabor Park, but this time Portland Parks and Recreation is bending over backwards to accommodate nearby residents.

Two years ago, Mount Tabor residents foiled the parks bureau’s plan to sell off its central parks maintenance yard on Southeast Division Street to neighboring Warner Pacific College, which wanted the land for athletic fields.

After the neighbors mobilized, the bureau backed down and agreed to renovate its antiquated maintenance yard and adjoining nursery at their locations in the park’s southwest corner.

[read more…]

Letter to the Editor

In the echo chamber of City Hall, Mayor Tom Potter’s platitudes about open government may fall flat (Potter’s Process, Sept. 18). However, the message that “business as usual” isn’t the only business in town draws in citizens who have been disengaged.

Potter has dared to imagine a better city and is committed to making it a reality.

Over on the east side, we learned last year that the city was contemplating a sale of the Mount Tabor yard and nursery to Warner Pacific College, without public input.

Since then, neighbors and Portland Parks & Recreation have blazed a trail that could infuse our desire for a vibrant parks system into local government.

Though we haven’t worked with the mayor, the values he’s championed run through the entire process. We’re hopeful that he will support a resolution to build on the momentum we’ve established.

His optimism and sense of public engagement in our civic discourse may take years to fully manifest. Potter’s alternative includes us all, and it’s time for us to step up.

Pete Forsyth
Southeast Portland
published in the Portland Tribune, 10/2/07