South Park Blocks makeover vote delayed amid fierce opposition
After hours of testimony from residents fiercely opposing a plan to renovate a historic 12-block park in downtown Portland, the City Council delayed a vote on a master plan to makeover the South Park Blocks. It's not clear when the vote will take place.
The plan describes a decades-long remodel of the park that connects the Portland State University campus with some of the city's biggest cultural attractions. The 132-page plan, two years in the making, would add new seating, art, plants and a bike path to the leafy strip in the city's core and redesign the linear pathways.
The overhaul comes with a steep price tag: The city estimates it would cost anywhere between $22.9 million to $46.6 million to build. That does not include the price to make the area part of the "Green Loop," a connected six-mile park through Portland's central city area for joggers, walkers and bikers. That pathway is estimated to cost an additional $7.4 million.
City officials describe the plan as "an unfunded vision" and say they have not allocated funding for most of the features.
Nevertheless, the plan has generated a strong backlash among Portlanders who believe it will lead to the decimation of the treasured elms that line the park and ruin one of the few green spaces downtown.
Dozens of Portlanders testified in opposition to the council on Thursday, July 15, decrying the plan as an unwanted makeover that would replace the rows of trees with unwanted asphalt and bring a flood of bikers, scooters and pedestrians into the residential area.
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