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If Portland Parks won't do it anymore, in Brooklyn, neighbors step up to do it themselves

RITA A. LEONARD - Brooklyn Park Director Craig Montag was a special guest at the fundraiser held to keep his summer program going at Brooklyn Park, after PP&R elected to de-fund it. Last summer, neighborhood donations supported its first year without city funding. The recently-formed "Friends of Brooklyn Park" held its first Winter Fundraising Gala from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday evening, December 2 – with the funds that were raised earmarked to help finance Brooklyn Park's 2019 summer program.

The popular Portland Parks & Recreation program was headed by Craig Montag for forty years until funds were cut in 2017. Neighbors, organized by Ben Tarne as "Friends of Brooklyn Park" (FoBP), were able to raise enough money to restore the program this past summer – and, looking to securing stable financing for the future, Tarne and Co-Chair Daniel Gaard organized what's planned as an annual event – the Winter Gala – this year, in the Trackers Earth facility on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue.

Among the additional financial demands to be met to keep the summer program going, Gaard told THE BEE, is that FoBP has to double the Park's insurance in the coming year. Food, drinks, music by the Eric Ching Trio, and raffling of items donated by local businesses, rounded out the adults-only party. Montag was a guest of honor, recalling highlights and personalities from his extensive career as Park Director.

Montag observed that of the nearly 900 people enrolled on Facebook's "Support Brooklyn Park" site – www.facebook.com/fobrooklynpark – many had enjoyed youthful summers at that neighborhood park.

As a former teacher and creative activities director, Craig was lauded by kids and parents alike, who trusted him with their fun-filled summers and thoughtful advice. He added many unique activities during his time there for PP&R, including the popular summer water-slide that cools kids off on hot summer days.

Tickets to the Gala ranged from $65 to $75, and raffle tickets were 3 for $25; fundraising has not ended. Tarne was quoting last year as saying "We hope to raise about $25,000 to cover costs of the 8-week-long Summer Program, which covers salaries, overhead, permits, insurance, and supplies. PP&R is currently working on getting our permits ready." In 2019 there may be additional expenses imposed by the city.

There is, as yet, no total available for the amount raised at the Gala. Park supporters can donate to the program online – www.friendsofbrooklynpark.org – or phone Tarne for information at 971/808-2438.

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