Solved: Mystery of 'Fenced bench' at Oaks Riverfront Park
In mid-March, people who frequent Sellwood Riverfront Park noticed that a bench, facing the Willamette River, had been temporarily but painstakingly fenced off. Regular BEE reader and photo contributor Dan O'Flaherty was the first to bring the anomaly of this "quarantined bench" to our attention.
Portland Parks & Recreation Public Information Officer Mark Ross looked into the situation for us.
The reason the area had been cordoned off, Ross told THE BEE, is that the bench had been fully refurbished and a memorial plaque had been recently installed at the location. "When we install plaques within gravel instead of concrete, the plaque must cure solidly within the gravel; so, the bench was taken temporarily out of service and fenced, to protect the plaque as it dried."
Of the more than 2,000 park benches, more than 250 of these benches have been adopted and maintained by community members, to provide a place to sit, reflect, celebrate, and remember as part of the PP&R Adopt-a-Bench program, Ross pointed out.
Now unveiled, the plaque reads:
As reported at the time, in a front page story in THE BEE, Mario Martinez drowned while swimming in the Willamette River near the Sellwood Bridge construction barges on the afternoon of August 1, 2014.
Ross said he'd reached out to the individuals who organized the memorial, but they had not yet responded to our request to the interview.
"If readers of THE BEE wish to learn more about the Adopt-a-Bench program, an opportunity to share a meaningful space while enhancing our parks for everyone's enjoyment, please see program information online," suggested Ross. Visit –