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Year 2 of the Parks Levy Produces Continued Success and Enhanced Parks and Recreation Services for Portland

News Article
Bureau Delivers on Parks Levy Voter Commitments; Second Annual Report Released
Published

(Portland, OR) –

Portland City Council unanimously voted to accept the 2022-23 Parks Levy Annual Report and Executive Summary, plus the Parks Levy Oversight Committee Annual Report, on Wednesday, December 13, 2023.

Funds from the 2020 Parks Local Option Levy (Parks Levy) are supporting Portland Parks & Recreation’s (PP&R) delivery of key voter commitments. Reporting is complete on data from the bureau’s fiscal year 2022-23. Thanks to the Parks Levy, PP&R served nearly 1.2 million people through classes, camps, and other programming. The bureau was able to continue programs at community centers and pools, to expand bilingual programming, increase the maintenance of parks, natural areas, and park trees in Portland, and more.

Young people rest on the wall of an outdoor pool.

Photo: Children relax at a Portland Parks & Recreation pool. The Parks Levy is keeping pools open and allowing the Bureau to hire more swim instructors and lifeguards. This means more swim lessons will be available citywide in the coming years!

The Parks Levy is a five-year levy supporting PP&R operations, programs, and day-to-day maintenance (levy funds cannot be used for capital projects like a bond can). Year 2, which ended June 30, 2023, saw continued progress in delivering on promises made to voters. These include hiring enough staff to meet community needs, purchasing additional equipment, and expanding parks and recreation programming to improve service levels for all Portlanders.

“This Levy represents what makes Portland, Portland,” says Portland Commissioner of Vibrant Communities Dan Ryan, who oversees Portland Parks & Recreation. “Seeing the 60 percent increase in the hours worked by swim instructors… and doubling the number of people who participated in nature, camps, classes, and community programs, and the 62 percent more trees planted in priority neighborhoods – these are all real results and, if it wasn’t for Portlanders commitment to the levy, none of that would have happened.”

“Year 2 of the Parks Levy has seen progress on all of the commitments made to Portland voters in the voter pamphlet,” says PP&R Director Adena Long. “I’m grateful for Portlanders’ investment in their city’s park system.”

“[The Levy Oversight Committee was] particularly impressed with the transparency and information-sharing… of Parks Levy funds in Year 1 and 2,” said Mary Ruble, a Parks Levy Oversight Committee member. “PP&R has been responsive to the interests of our group, creating time in meeting agendas for topical presentations we selected, and educating the committee by sharing information on Parks Levy-related initiatives in a timely manner.”

Some notable achievements made possible by the Parks Levy during fiscal year 2022-23 include:

  • PP&R’s Urban Forestry department now provides proactive maintenance on Portland’s park trees. Prior to the Parks Levy, PP&R only had capacity to respond to emergency tree issues. Additionally, PP&R planted 2,381 trees in neighborhoods designated as priority areas, a 62 percent increase from the prior year.
  • Participation across all PP&R programs increased. Recreation programs had an estimated 1,159,801 attendees; more than 7,750 children registered for preschool, SUN Community Schools, after-school programs, and camps; and almost 33,500 Portland youth used TeenForce passes to access PP&R programs free of charge. Participation in PP&R Environmental Education programs increased year to year from 2,664 people to an impressive 5,415 participants.
  • Parks Levy funds supported the bureau’s new Access Pass, which provides financial assistance to City of Portland residents with up to a 90 percent discount on program fees. This is helping reduce cost as a barrier to participation, a key Levy promise. In Year 2, PP&R provided $3 million in financial assistance to over 15,000 people–more than double what was provided the year prior.
  • PP&R treated nearly 1,000 acres of invasive weeds, collected 3,650,756 pounds of trash, and kept restrooms open and clean. PP&R has also created over 80 new positions to increase maintenance in parks and natural areas. These positions will expand  capacity to meet park and natural area maintenance needs across the city.

The Parks Levy report includes six stories from program participants, partners, and staff that speak to the impact of the Parks Levy and PP&R programming. From bringing programming  into community, to connecting Portlanders to nature through volunteer opportunities, the stories demonstrate the lasting impression the Parks Levy is having on Portland.

More info is at portland.gov/parks/parks-levy

The 2022-23 Parks Levy Annual Report and related report materials are available at portland.gov/parks/parks-levy#toc-annual-reports

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