Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio this week approved plans to use $15.5 million in one-time fees to build a skatepark, a playground, and a community garden, and to make improvements to Kelley Point Park and complete a master plan for a natural area near the Columbia Slough.
The money is coming from system development charges, the one-time fees assessed on new developments to add greenspaces as new houses and commercial buildings go up. By law, SDCs must be used to expand the park system. The funding is for the city’s 2023-24 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2023.
“Our city’s beloved park system continues to be critical to Portlanders’ mental and physical well-being,” Rubio said in a press release. “I’ve directed development fees to pay for these projects based on careful evaluation and input from Portland Parks & Recreation and the public, with equity at the forefront.”
The new skatepark, with a price tag of $5 million, will go in Southeast Portland, Rubio’s office said, to “help fill an identified service gap.” Service gap, indeed. Last year, a DIY skatepark called Feral Cat Cove drew crowds to what was a vacant lot along the Springwater Corridor deep in Southeast Portland.
Rubio slated $1 million to buy park land in areas that lack greenspace, with a focus on building a community garden in Southwest Portland. Another $2.5 million will go toward building a playground next to the Midland Library at Southeast 122nd Avenue and Morrison Street.
Kelley Point Park, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, will get $3 million, atop an existing $1 million, to expand picnic areas and trails.
Rubio approved $4 million to complete a master plan for the Wilkes Creek Headwaters property, where planners envision revitalized natural areas, trails and park amenities. A spring there feeds the only free-flowing stream in the city that still enters the Columbia Slough.