Mt. Tabor Master Plan, and “open yard day”

Mt. Tabor Yard and Nursery servicesFor decades, the Mt. Tabor Park Central Yard and Nursery — the heart of Portland’s parks system — has been neglected, and the workers there have to make the most of some pretty run-down facilities in the upkeep of our parks.

This all came to light a couple years ago, when a group of my neighbors found out about a quiet plan to sell the facility to a neighboring college. It started off with a mediation between local residents and the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau (PP&R); after interrupting the land sale, and a successful close to mediation, we turned our attention to planning out the best use of the yard and nursery in providing for a healthy parks system for decades to come.

Last fall, City Council committed to funding a public involvement project at $465,000. (Read more here.) A fairly steep price tag, but when you’re facing a situation that’s messed up on numerous levels, it requires a thorough rethinking; also, our plans will have an impact over many years, so it’s important to “get it right” the first time around. Our committee consists of 36 people, representing an incredible diversity of experience and skills.

Unfortunately, Mayor Potter’s current proposed budget falls $200,000 short of the amount promised. If this is not corrected, it essentially means an end to our project, which is not a scalable enterprise. Right now, we’re approaching Council members to remind them of the significance of our project, and ensure that it is fully funded in the final version of the budget.

We’ve prepared a letter to Council, and are also encouraging our members and anyone concerned with the future of our parks to write Council members individually. Please consider sending your own, before Monday, May 12.

Also, PP&R will be hosting an event at Mt. Tabor Park on Saturday, May 31, from 10-3, at the south entrance to Mt. Tabor Park (SE 64th and Lincoln).

There will be guided tours of work areas, gardens, greenhouses. It’s a rare opportunity to peek behind the scenes at what makes our parks work, and share your ideas about how the yard and nursery should look and work in the future.

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3 Responses to “Mt. Tabor Master Plan, and “open yard day””

  1. In 2000, when the City and neighbors first released an extensive master plan for Mt Tabor, they agreed on the following vision:

    “…Portland Parks and Recreation works closely and cooperatively with the community in its management of the park. Decisions about proposed changes in park use are in keeping with the Master Plan vision and goals. Proposed changes to uses in the park are considered and evaluated in light of their impacts on the character and condition of the park, other park users, and the surrounding neighborhood.”

    Since its release, issues like capping the reservoirs and selling the maintenance yard has kept citizens out of the decisions and direction of Mt Tabor Park and has proven to be contentious every time.

    This process has established citizens, employees and government as equitable stakeholders, opening up avenues of communication that have historically been closed. Additionally, it serves as a model of partnership that will have city-wide implications. Limiting the funding for this planning process throws all that potential away.

    I hope that the City adheres to the vision for Mt Tabor that was agreed upon nearly 10 years ago and lets us finish this important task together.

  2. Well said, Scott — hope you’ll send that sentiment along to the Commissioners!

    Meanwhile, I was out walking with my girlfriend this afternoon, and wondering why Reservoir 5 was completely drained…which we’d never seen before. Just found out: two gallon bucket of paint found in the reservoir. Yikes!

  3. Pete, I came across your post here and thought I’d offer this note, not knowing offhand your familiarity with the details of this issue, other than the “Yikes – paint” comment. Open reservoirs have been around for a long long time. You can be assured that the City of Portland and other cities would not be maintaining such reservoirs if there was any serious threat to the water. Between the huge volume of water and the basic treatment of the water, it’s virtually impossible to seriouously contaminate our supply with even the most highly guarded toxins, or without backing up a dumptruck full.

    In addition, as Floy Jones has pointed out, burying reservoirs does not “protect” them or the water supply. Good operations and maintenance practices protects the water supplies. You will not find ANY scientific research that compares the water quality of open and closed reservoirs, because the industry knows that there is no evidence that water quality is better in closed or covered reservoirs. Covered reservoirs are the ones that suffer vandalism and bacterial contamination via the required vents and because they are out of site and thus out of mind, they often are not cleaned and maintained as they should be, resulting in further contamination issues. This has been documented by the American Water Works Association for the EPA. Portland’s combined water and sewer rates are already the 2nd highest in the nation. Spending hundreds of millions for no measurable public health benefit will only benefit the corporations and will mean a much higher water bill for the community. They will double if we sacrifice the benefits of sunlight (which provides natural UV “treatment”) for darkness and a false sense of security.

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