Commissioner Carmen Rubio said new Portland Parks & Recreation bureau spending would primarily come from development fees.

COURTESY PHOTO: PP&R - City Commissioner Carmen Rubio addressed Portland neighbors at Mill Park on April 22. Commissioner Carmen Rubio — who oversees the city's network of 247 leafy parks and recreation centers — has announced plans to spend roughly $27.9 million on further upgrades and new facilities.

The money, primarily pulled from the fees Portland tacks on to new development projects, will kickstart planning on a new swimming center in North Portland, help activate the grassy lawn of Mill Park, expand playgrounds, complete a skatepark and build a splash pad.

"As our city grows, and our park system expands, we need to ensure Portlanders have equitable access to green spaces and recreation sites," said Rubio. "These projects reflect our commitment to center community and build an inclusive park system."

At the top of the list, Rubio directed $11.7 million in system development charges toward the planning and design of a new swimming pool and aquatics facility somewhere in North Portland, though the exact location hasn't been hammered out.

Portland Parks & Recs officials say the total cost will likely reach $35 million, provided the full City Council approves adding the project to a funding list. General fund dollars also must be found, because SDCs can legally only be spent on expanding the park system's capacity.

"The communities of North Portland have communicated that, without an aquatic center, they lack a crucial site for fun, fitness, community, and camaraderie," said Rubio. "I'm proud we're able to build on the work of Commissioner Nick Fish with this initial financial investment."

COURTESY PHOTO: PP&R - Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long addressed a crowd at Mill Park on April 22.

East Portland plans

In outer Portland, Rubio seeks to fully develop the 5.7-acre Mill Park on Southeast 117th Avenue. Initial plans including building a new playground, community garden, splash pad, gathering area, picnic shelter and tables, a sports field and a central lawn with paved pathways, art and other amenities.

The project will include $10.4 million in system development money, with construction slated to begin in spring 2023 and end summer 2024.

"Mill Park is just a few blocks from Southeast 122nd Avenue and next door to an elementary school that welcomes children who speak over 30 different languages," said Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long. "A redeveloped Mill Park will give both kids and adults a safe place to play, relax, and build community in this dense and diverse neighborhood."

Officials say the Parks Local Option Levy passed last year will allow PP&R to maintain the park and keep it safe.

Other upgrades

• Farragut Park in North Portland will feature new accessible playground equipment at a cost of $1.76 million to be paid with development fees. A restroom roof will be repaired using a different pool of money, with the work to begin this year and end in early 2023.

• Kelley Point Park, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in North Portland, will get a new covered picnic shelter, water fountains, BBQ pit and accessible pathway at a cost of $1 million. Work is expected to wrap in 2023.

• Southeast Portland's Berrydale Park will receive $1.5 million for completion of a skatepark by 2024. Half a million dollars had already been allocated, raising the total budget to $2 million.

• A splash pad style outdoor play area will be added to Wellington Park in Northeast Portland for a price of $1.2 million in SDCs. Project planning will begin this year.

• Nature patches — which add boulders, logs, flowers, plants and other natural landscaping to otherwise barren park areas — will be added in Cathedral, Overlook and A parks, at a cost of $420,000.

A Park was known as Custer Park until it was renamed by order of former City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. Plans to retitle the space have not yet been finalized. A spokesman for the parks bureau says it will likely be "a holistic citywide effort."

Zane Sparling
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