Taking Care of People Who Take Care of Parks
When Portlanders approved the Parks Replacement Bond in 2014, they endorsed a commitment to ensure worker safety through renovating and replacing outmoded Portland Parks & Recreation maintenance buildings. Two Bond funded projects that focus on worker safety provide, substantial improvements to the Urban Forestry Yard and the Mt Tabor Yard Maintenance Facility and are among the final projects of the Bond program.
Mt. Tabor Yard Maintenance Facility, known as the Yard, serves as the central dispatch for PP&R for over 140 employees responsible for maintaining park infrastructure across the city. Thanks to Bond funding, professional trades that currently operate in structures originally designed as horse stables will have modern, safe facilities to support their work.
Don Athey, PRMS Maintenance Supervisor who has been with PP&R for over 18 years welcomes the upcoming improvements because “this is a step in the right direction, which will make the Yard a modern, safe and efficient workplace. These long-awaited improvements are especially important in light of the forthcoming workforce expansion funded by the 2020 Parks Local Option Levy,” added Don.
Karen Trappen, the locksmith for the Bureau, says that these days the Yard looks pretty much the same as it did when she started as a carpenter over 20 years ago.
Karen recalls that the conversations about the Yard needing improvements were started by the neighbors of the Yard. Representatives of the Mt. Tabor and South Tabor neighborhood associations toured the Yard in 2007 and were appalled by what they saw, saying City employees deserve better working conditions. A committee of neighbors and City employees, including Karen, was formed to update the 2000 Mt. Tabor Park Master Plan to include a plan for the Yard.
As a result of their work, the Mt. Tabor Yard Master Plan was completed in 2008, but no funding was available until the Bond’s passage in 2014. Today, as Karen is witnessing the progress toward implementing the Plan, she says that these neighbors who were a driving force behind the Yard improvement planning still have a warm place in her heart.
Maintenance staff are PP&R’s backbone and unsung heroes out in the field rain or shine, pandemic or not. A safer, more efficient workspace will allow them to better care for our parks, and this is happening soon thanks to the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond.
Accessible Recreation for Everyone: One Site at a Time
As Portland Parks & Recreation project managers started each Bond-funded project, they investigated how the projects could address ADA accessibility barriers and make parks, natural areas, and community centers more inclusive and welcoming for everyone. From this work over the past six years, Bond-funded projects have removed over 400 barriers to accessibility at parks, playgrounds, pools, and trails!
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became abundantly clear how essential parks are for all Portlanders. Parks and trails are some of the most frequently visited public spaces, playing a critical role for our physical and mental wellbeing as well as fostering health and resilience in our communities. Making our shared public spaces easily accessible for all – a person using a mobility device, a child on a bicycle or a skateboard, people pushing strollers, or someone who recently had knee surgery – allows everyone to benefit from the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond’s investments.
You can see examples of this work at many Bond funded park improvements including at Washington Park Rose Garden, Multnomah Arts Center, Peninsula Pool, Creston Park, East Portland Community Center, and many others. At playgrounds around the city, renovation work included more accessible play structures, walking paths and drinking fountains. Restroom renovation projects allowed for modern accessible facilities for families and park visitors.
At the Multnomah Arts Center (MAC), Bond funds ensured accessibility improvements were made to the cottages west of the main center. New ramps and walkways will better serve community members attending classes and other programs at MAC.
“I send my sincere thanks to Portland voters for their collective support to greatly improve accessibility to the Multnomah Arts Center and so many other public facilities, creating more equitable, accessible, and safer PP&R facilities for everyone!” says Michael Walsh, Arts Program Supervisor at MAC.