Open house: Mt. Tabor Central Yard & Nursery Planning Group

The Mount Tabor Central Yard & Nursery Planning Group is a collaborative effort between concerned citizens and City employees, developing a plan to redesign Portland’s central parks maintenance and support facility. Our mission is to enhance the facility’s ability to support all Portland parks, and provide a safe and efficient work area for the various Parks employees who use the site.

We’ll be hosting our second major open house this weekend, to present our work to date and solicit feedback. Our architect, Opsis, will be showing several drafts for a redesign of the site.

There will be a couple of other opportunities to see the plans as well, listed below; and hopefully we’ll be able to get them online as well.

The process is beginning to take shape recently, now that we’ve completed the “homework” phase, held one open house, and hired Opsis. We recently took a straw poll of participants, exploring our priorities for the site. We found a significant lack of support for bringing much of the Urban Forestry department’s operations into the site, or for moving a large piece of equipment for making wood chips from the park into the yard. Other projects, such as enhancing the existing maintenance, horticultural and community garden services, had much more support from the group.

There have been some changes in the City’s facilitation team for our project. Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong, who worked with us last fall but left for some maternity time, has returned; and Jon Makler, one of the two project managers and the primary facilitator of our meetings, has resigned. His steady hand will be missed.

Going forward, of particular concern is that one group member’s research and questions don’t seem to be getting answered. The zoning and land use aspects of our project are somewhat unclear, and yet will have a strong impact on what we’re able to do. The two major questions are what property the Water Bureau owns (since the Water Bureau has some interests that are likely to conflict with other parties — see below), and also the land use designations of various parcels, which will impact where we can locate certain services.

There are some notable discrepancies between maps from the 1950s and more recent maps, of the parcels in question; but nobody from the City seems to be willing to discuss those discrepancies. There seems to be some concern in the group that this is intentional withholding of vital information; I’m not sure that’s the case, but as time goes on it’s getting harder to imagine what else could explain it.

Another potential difficulty is the issue of connectivity between the park and Division Street, via the 64th Avenue right-of-way. It seems clear that there is no citizen interest in putting in a full street. A street would be very expensive (compared to a bicycle path), and neighbors in the immediate area seem strongly opposed to it due to traffic concerns. However, the Water Bureau — which owns that portion of the property (or at least claims to own it, which is a bit unclear) — has expressed a strong desire for a full street. (See PDF of memo) The Water Bureau is, I believe, looking ahead at the potential need to bring large construction equipment through in order to bury the reservoirs.

I’ve created a map of the yard, with some of the significant areas noted, on “my Google maps,” a neat service that lets you make custom maps.

To learn more, and to provide input into the process, please attend the Open House on Saturday. Our meetings are all open to the public as well. Contact Maija Spencer at the Parks office for schedule information.

    Saturday, August 2, 9:00 AM – Noon*
    Mt Tabor Park – South Entrance – SE 64th & Lincoln
    *Opsis Architecture Q&A Session 10:00-11:00 AM
    View draft designs for the Yard & Nursery. 
    Give your input to the planning process!
    Other opportunities to view the designs:
    Sunday, August 3, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM – Montavilla Farmer’s Market (SE 76th/Stark)
    Tuesday, August 12, 6:00 PM – Friends of Mt Tabor Picnic (Mt Tabor Park picnic shelter)

One Response to “Open house: Mt. Tabor Central Yard & Nursery Planning Group”

  1. […] From Mt. Tabor Central Yard and Nursery Open House August 2, 2008 This morning, Pete Forsyth kindly invited Amber Case and I to a Mt. Tabor planning meeting. She will have a writeup for it […]

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