(Portland, OR) –
The construction of Portland Parks & Recreation’s (PP&R) highly anticipated Mill Park project is now underway. Work began in August at this 6.2-acre site located at SE 119th Avenue and Lincoln Street in East Portland, with an expected completion in late 2024. The development of Mill Park will transform an open area with virtually no amenities into a vibrant community hub featuring a state-of-the-art playground, splash pad, new Portland Community Garden, picnic shelter and tables, chin lone*/volleyball court, Portland Loo, fitness area, a walking path and central promenade, public art, 74 new trees, and other park amenities.
Join Portland Culture & Livability Commissioner Dan Ryan, PP&R, neighbors, friends, and partners for the Mill Park groundbreaking celebration!
When: Thursday, September 28, 2023, from 6 pm to 7 pm
Where: Mill Park Elementary Covered Basketball Court, 1900 SE 117th Avenue
This family-friendly event will include treats and activities for kids, in collaboration with Mill Park Elementary School’s Back to School night. Welcoming remarks will be given by Division Midway Alliance, Mill Park Elementary School, Mill Park Neighborhood Association, PP&R Director Adena Long, and Commissioner Dan Ryan. Neighbors are encouraged to bring a shovel and participate in the groundbreaking ceremony.
“East Portland and the Mill Park community have been waiting for this park for a long time, so it is beyond exciting that the wait is nearly over,” says Commissioner Dan Ryan. “The park will greatly enhance one of Portland’s most diverse neighborhoods—an area with relatively large populations of people of color, youth, multilingual people, and people living in poverty.”
This diverse community will be represented in the park’s public art, thanks to PP&R’s partnership with the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC). The project includes public art by Alex Chiu, a Portland artist and Mill Park resident. Alex captured his exploration of the Mill Park neighborhood on his Instagram page, @millparkstories, which features a series of stories from interviews with residents, businesses, and organizations in the area.
“The upgraded Mill Park will have plenty of space to play and exercise,” says Director Long. “In addition to the park being a wonderful community centerpiece for gatherings and gardening, it will also be a beloved destination for Mill Park Elementary students and families.”
Mill Park Elementary is next door to the park and serves 475 students, with approximately 78% of them identifying as people of color and/or Native/Indigenous, and 48% enrolled as English-as-second-language learners. About 68% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Raimore Construction, the firm that won the construction contract, is a Portland-based minority-owned general contractor founded in 2004. Raimore Construction takes pride in its ability to consistently recruit and hire people from marginalized backgrounds, focusing on increasing their opportunities to learn and grow in the construction industry. Over 80% of Raimore staff, including all supervisory and management personnel, are people of color.
What to know
Mill Park is closed during construction. The school property, including playground and basketball courts, remains open for community use during assigned community access hours. A Safe Route to School route from SE 122nd Avenue to Mill Park Elementary School will be open in the morning and afternoon on school days for families and children to travel to and from school through the construction site. Raimore Construction will facilitate and monitor the morning and afternoon access to support safe travel on school days only.
The 2017 Mill and Midland Parks Combined Master Plan was completed after an extensive community engagement process with an intentional focus on engaging underserved communities in the area. Approved by City Council on November 8, 2017, at a Council meeting held at David Douglas High School, the plan delivered on the City of Portland's commitment to increase park access in East Portland.
In April 2021, Commissioner Carmen Rubio announced $10.4 million in System Development Charge (SDC) funds from construction fees (not tax dollars) to advance the Mill Park project. Commissioner Rubio allocated $1.6 million of those funds for PP&R to purchase a 22,000 square-foot property at 1949 SE 122nd Avenue, creating a new park entry from SE 122nd Avenue and increasing the total open space provided by the future Mill Park to approximately 6.2 acres. This property has been incorporated into the final Mill Park design.
In 2023, Commissioner Ryan added an additional $2.8 million in SDC fees to the project budget to ensure the project’s completion. This was necessary, given the ongoing impact of inflation, supply chain, and labor issues across the construction industry. The project’s total budget is $13.22 million.
*Chin lone is a game popular in Southeast Asian communities. It uses a volleyball net and a wicker ball. Players can only use their head or feet, no hands, to move the ball back and forth over the net. This will be the first official Chin lone court in the PP&R system.