Wash. Park: Portland Parks letter

A response was received to the NW Examiner article from Mark Ross of the Media and Community Relations Dept at Portland Parks and Recreation:

Thanks for your interest in the Washington Park Master Plan. I’d like to call out a few inaccuracies in the article:

 While it is Christie Galen’s opinion you cite, not your own, please understand that PP&R did not have an agenda going in to this process– we did do a holistic view of the park. We are happy to provide context or responses to such points/opinions if you ask.  Please reference the technical investigation document on the project page https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/index.cfm?&c=70954.  The draft Master Plan only proposes appropriate trail development in the natural area of the park – a single track mountain bike trail proposed in the draft Plan’s Phase 3, located away from the Wildwood and other trails.  There is a proposal for a paved regional trail that would connect the southern end of the park to the northern end within the right-of-way of the old rail line.  The train has not run in years due to landslides blocking the tracks.

  • The Master Plan will very much address park maintenance needs – Phase 1 intends to fix the assets currently in place.  As our project manager explained to Christie Galen, the staffing plan will be shown in the final plan.
  • The suggestion for a parking structure was eliminated because of cost considerations we found to be untenable. The “single hub” concept shown to the public back in April proposed a possible parking structure at the south end of the park, behind the MAX station. After input from the public, the Champion Committee and PP&R’s Park Board concluded that the cost of building a parking structure was too expensive, and it would not add sufficient parking spaces to the park as intended. Thus, PP&R made the decision to not move it forward in the plan.  The community was informed of this decision and it is not shown in the draft Master Plan.
  • All natural areas in Washington Park are to be preserved, and the Plan states that maintenance is needed to enhance their ecological value. We are planning to improve Washington Park trails to make them more sustainable and have better wayfinding. Our intent is to protect the natural areas of the iconic park.
  • Regarding fire protection: the Master Plan does recommend that a resiliency plan be completed – we did not have the resources to do this at this time.  One of the Plan goals has been and remains to establish resiliency.
  • Public outreach included: we had a robust community engagement process; including an Open House which drew more than 100 attendees, an online survey with 2000 responses, and three focus groups –to members of Portland’s Vietnamese, Russian and Latino communities.  The public outreach report, https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/649734, summarizes what we heard.  The diverse opinions, away from the immediate neighbors’ responses, indicated people felt the enhancements suggested would make them come to Washington Park more often and make it more attractive for the region. Making the park a desirable attractions for all Portlanders, not just people who live nearby – and making it easy to get to and around – is a goal for equity and inclusion.

 Just a reminder that Washington Park attracts local, regional, national and international visitors because of the world-class attractions located in the park.  It is one of the most visited sites in the city.  The International Rose Test Garden is one of the top free attractions in the entire state, if not alone in this distinction. The Master Plan aims to make the park more accessible to people from all over, and to not be a site dominated by cars.  It adds food options because we heard through our survey and focus groups that people want to be able to have such choices when they visit the park.  Local, regional, national and international visitors often want to spend an entire day in the park, and right now food options are very limited (especially in the garden area). Finally, the park brings beauty, nature and economic prosperity to our city.  It also still provides for neighborhood needs – wooded trails on which to hike or jog, tennis courts, natural beauty, in addition to world-class attractions.

 Mark Ross
Media Relations | Community Relations
Portland Parks & Recreation
1001 SW 5th Ave., Suite 2200
Portland, Oregon 97204