December 6th, 2011 | by HANNAH HOFFMAN News | Posted In: City Hall, Environment, Politics

(UPDATED) Parks Bureau Proposes Closing All Park Restrooms As Part of Mandatory Cuts

While tentative, the budget cut proposal paints a nasty picture for Portland's park system.

800px-waterfront_park,_portlandTom McCall Waterfront Park
UPDATE: The Parks Budget Advisory Committee released its slightly revised list of proposed cuts Thursday afternoon. Notable changes include moving the closure of Hillside Community Center to the 6 percent-cut scenario and the cut to parks workers into the worst-case scenario.

It’s possible that next August, when families flock to Portland’s parks to play, picnic and cool off, they may have to use port-a-potties.

Mayor Sam Adams told every general fund department except including the police and fire bureaus to come up with cut packages representing 4, 6 and 8 percent of their budgets going into the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The city’s Parks & Recreation Bureau, headed by Commissioner Nick Fish, has come up with proposals to cut its budget—and the restrooms are high on the list. That cut alone would save the city more than $770,000.

The suggested cuts also include closing Buckman Pool, shutting down the Fulton and Hillside community centers, ending the Outdoor Recreation program and reducing trash pick-up.

“This is the list of horribles for everybody," says Fish’s policy director, Jim Blackwood. "This is a wrenching process to be forced to prioritize all of these wonderful things.”

However, he says the list is the first step in a long process of public input and there's no guarantee of what will be cut.

The parks cut list will go before the Parks Advisory Board Wednesday morning, and the recommendations that come out of that meeting will be subject to public input at a hearing on Jan. 9, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 pm in the Multnomah County board room.

Blackwood says even the smallest package of cuts paints an ugly picture.

“Just at the 4 percent package, all of the park restrooms would close and there would be a port-a-potty there instead,” he says. “Community centers—you just close the doors and mothball them.”

“It’s a tad ironic that just weeks after receiving the top national award for a parks system, we’re making these kinds of cuts,” he says.
 
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