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While the effort to raise money to make this neighborhood park possible continues....

RITA A. LEONARD - Mark Lakeman, and his daughter Esther Plum, stand by a SMILE poster promoting the Moreland Woods proposal. The wooded empty lot just north of the mausoleum at Wilhelm's Portland Memorial, and just south of Llewellyn Elementary School, in Westmoreland, is for sale.

A committee of SMILE, the neighborhood association, has been formed to try to buy the site for a community park, proposed to be called "Moreland Woods". The site is currently zoned R-5, for residential housing, but due to concerns about development, the owners of the lot, Foundation Partners, have not yet made a sale.

Access is limited to entry via S.E. 14th Avenue, a very narrow one-way street, and the western edge of the property is a cliff overlooking Oaks Bottom – a steep drop-off with the potential for landslides, requiring a significant set-back for any homes constructed there.

Consequently, the owners of the land informally signaled a willingness to entertain a one-year delay in attempting to sell the lot, to determine the neighborhood's interest buying it. If funding can be arranged, the owners seem willing to sell it to a nonprofit or public entity for a discounted price – estimated by the SMILE Friends of Moreland Woods Committee to be between one and one and a half million dollars.

The idea actually continues an established practice of SMILE of creating small parks in the neighborhood on its own. Twenty years ago, the SMILE Board obtained a 99-year lease from Union Pacific for a small piece of property on S.E. 13th on the south side of the railroad tracks for the "Golf Junction" pocket park, and recently SMILE developed with city permission the tiny Oaks Bottom Overlook Park on the Bybee-13th curve in Westmoreland, just south of Wilhelm's Portland Memorial. This would be by far the largest such project undertaken by SMILE, however.

At a recent forum, former SMILE President Corinne Stefanick remarked, "PP&R told us they do not have the funds to purchase and manage the site", which has led to a community fundraising effort – with all contributions earmarked for the proposed park tax-deductible, inasmuch as SMILE is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. The originator of Sellwood's "Share-It Square", Mark Lakeman, has gotten involved with the new effort, suggesting a community charrette with at least three different designs for Moreland Woods, to help establish a public vision. Volunteers are forming committees for marketing, engagement, and fund-raising.

Lakeman agreed to develop the charrette via his business, "Communitecture".

"I'd be honored to develop design overviews of the site," he said. "I'm very interested in anything having to do with open spaces in the neighborhood." Lakeman viewed meeting posters offering residents' input and dreams for the site, developed at two SMILE Open Houses on the project – and he plans make designs for the three most popular choices.

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