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Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio (pictured) and PP&R Director Adena Long held a small, informal discussion about the future of Mill Park on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo/Courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation)
By Patricia | The Skanner News
Published: 29 April 2021

Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio is directing funding from construction development fees towards numerous capital projects across the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) system.

“As our city grows, and our park system expands, we need to ensure Portlanders have equitable access to green spaces and recreation sites,” said Commissioner Rubio.

“These projects reflect our commitment to center community and build an inclusive park system."

The upcoming projects will be funded largely (and in some cases, entirely) by Parks System Development Charges (SDCs). SDCs are not General Fund tax dollars; rather, they are one-time fees assessed on new development. SDCs help ensure that Portland's quality of life keeps pace with our growing and changing city by providing additional parks and recreation facilities needed to accommodate growth.

parks director adena long fullPortland Parks Director Adena Long speaks to the community gathered at Mill Park (Photo/courtesy Portland Parks & Rec)
“It is uplifting that resources from the recently passed Parks Local Option Levy will allow PP&R to increase maintenance and upkeep in Portland’s parks,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long.

“We are committed to caring for and protecting the community’s investments, and for maintaining welcoming parks and facilities for all Portlanders.”

North Portland Pool / Aquatics Center

Commissioner Rubio is directing Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) to move forward in the initial steps of developing a new full-service swimming and aquatics center in North Portland. This is a key first step in meeting this need for our growing city. Commissioner Rubio has directed about $11.7 million in SDCs towards the future facility, to cover the initial project design, permitting, and robust public engagement efforts. This allocation depends on a future City Council amendment to PP&R’s SDC funding list to include this project. The initial estimate for the total cost of the completed aquatic center is roughly $35 million and additional, separate (non-SDC) funds will be needed to complete the project.

“The communities of North Portland have communicated that, without an aquatic center, they lack a crucial site for fun, fitness, community, and camaraderie," said Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “I’m proud we’re able to build on the work of Commissioner Nick Fish with this initial financial investment for a new full-service North Portland Aquatic Center and I look forward to discussions about its exact location.”

The planning process will begin in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, targeting a project completion in five years, provided that additional funding is secured to supplement the SDCs. SDCs by law may only be used for improvements that will expand the capacity of the parks system. As planning moves forward, more information will become available about the project’s site, scope, and other details.

Farragut Park Playground Expansion

PP&R will add new equipment suited for toddlers and remove ADA barriers for better playground accessibility. The project funding is $1.75M in SDCs. PP&R will also be completing major maintenance to fix a restroom roof at the park (funded separately). Planning for this project is expected to begin later this year with final project completion targeted by early 2023.

Mill Park – Developing a New Neighborhood Park

Mill Park comprises almost 6 acres at SE 117th Avenue and Mill Court and will become an amazing neighborhood gathering place including a playground, community garden, splash pad, picnic shelter, and other amenities. Developing Mill Park is key to serving the needs of East Portland and its growth. The project includes $10.4 million of SDC funds. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2023, with completion in summer 2024.

parks mill park community meeting april 2021Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio (top photo (L) with project manager Robin Johnson Craig (R)) and PP&R Director Adena Long (bottom photo) held a small, informal discussion about the future of Mill Park on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Attendees included: Michael Cruz, Mill Park Elementary School principal (David Douglas School District), Trevor Hopper, Mill Park Neighborhood Association Chair, Lisha Shrestha, Director, Division Midway Alliance, Linda Robinson, longtime East Portland park advocate, Members of the Mill Park project advisory committee, Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio, and Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long. (photo/courtesy Portland Parks & Rec)
“Mill Park is just a few blocks from Southeast 122nd Avenue and next door to an elementary school that welcomes children who speak over 30 different languages,” said PP&R Director Long. “A redeveloped Mill Park will give both kids and adults a safe place to play, relax, and build community in this dense and diverse neighborhood."

For more information about the Mill Park project, please visit portland.gov/parks/news/2021/4/15/parks-commissioner-rubio-directs-mill-park-development-move-forward.

Kelley Point Park Improvements For Visitors

PP&R will install new picnic tables, a covered picnic shelter, water, BBQ pit, and an ADA-accessible path. Kelley Point Park is in North Portland at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. The project funding is $1M in SDCs. Planning is expected to begin later this year with completion targeted for 2023.

Berrydale Park – New Skatepark

Commissioner Rubio is allocating $1.5M in SDCs to complete a new skatepark at the popular Southeast Portland park. The project already had $500K in SDC funding; the new total project budget is $2M. Planning for the skateboarding area is beginning with a completion date of spring 2024.

Wellington Park - New Splash Pad

PP&R is bringing a new interactive water play feature to Wellington Park in Northeast Portland. Similar to interactive fountains, splash pads are summertime outdoor water play areas in the PP&R system. Project planning is expected to begin later this year; PP&R will keep the community updated on next steps. This project is funded with $1.2M in SDCs.

Nature Patches (Several Parks)

Commissioner Rubio is allocating funding to build the latest PP&R nature patches at three Portland parks – bringing the total number of these innovative projects to twelve. Nature patches are part of PP&R’s Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Initiative and produce appealing destinations that combine less maintenance costs with increased benefits for recreation and wildlife. Nature patches transform formerly under-utilized sections of neighborhood parks into innovative discovery zones for people of all ages. They include features such as boulders, logs, and pathways for play and exploration - and flowers and plants for pollinators.

PP&R will install new nature patches at:

  • A Park (formerly known as Custer Park, in Southwest Portland)
  • Cathedral Park (North Portland)
  • Overlook Park (North Portland)

The Nature Patches are funded with $420,000 in SDC funds.

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