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Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz announces funding for Columbia Children’s Arboretum

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Accessibility improvements to assist neighbors, other future improvements possible
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(Portland, OR) –

Accessibility improvements to assist neighbors, other future improvements possible

Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz has designated more than $1.1 million towards improvements at Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) Columbia Children’s Arboretum. The funding comes not from tax dollars, but from construction development funds called “SDCs” or System Development Charges. The investment will allow PP&R to increase circulation and access at the Arboretum—including the development of a paved multi-use trail, vital for more people to be able to get around the unique northeast Portland destination. 

“Columbia Children’s Arboretum is a unique park with an environmental education legacy dating to the 1960s,” notes Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “We also note that the Columbia Children’s Arboretum is a part of town where there is not as much access to parks and green spaces as there is in the rest of Portland. Therefore, it is vital we invest in this gem.”

“This property is one of only two arboretums in the entire PP&R system,” says Maryhelen Kincaid of the Friends of Columbia Children’s Arboretum. “And we recognize its unique footprint and value.”

Through the $1.135M in funding dedicated by Commissioner Fritz the unique arboretum will be accessible to people with strollers and mobility devices. PP&R will soon begin discussing the upgrades with the community, and plans to finalize the scope of the project in the spring 2017.

Challenges Remain

As Portland Parks & Recreation commits to new parks in communities where none currently exist - and to expanding other parks - many existing parks are at a crossroads. For decades, PP&R operating funding has been cut or remained flat, forcing the Bureau to postpone rehabilitation and maintenance in every neighborhood throughout the City. Despite the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond, passed by voters with overwhelming support, the list of needs across the PP&R system is huge, and grows every year. PP&R has anticipated unfunded maintenance needs totaling nearly $250 million over the next 10 years. The beautiful parks we love to visit are being held together by thousands of volunteers and wonderful employees going above and beyond the call of duty. PP&R has additional and unfunded growth needs of approximately $472 million over the next ten years.

Funding for the improvements at the Columbia Children’s Arboretum come not from General Fund Tax dollars, but from System Development Charges (SDCs). These are one-time fees assessed on new development to cover a portion of the cost of providing specific types of public infrastructure required as a result of this development. Park SDCs are restricted by law and can only be used to expand capacity (rather than to maintain or repair existing park facilities). SDCs help ensure that Portland's quality of life keeps pace with our growing and changing city by providing additional parks and recreation facilities needed to accommodate growth.

However, SDCs are unfortunately insufficient to fully address the hundreds of park projects needed by our rapidly growing neighborhoods.

”In east Portland, two out of every five households do not have easy access to a City park. That is in stark contrast to the rest of Portland where four out of every five households live within a half-mile of a park or natural area“, adds Commissioner Fritz. 

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