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Portland Parks & Recreation Completes Errol Heights Park Project

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16 acres in SE Portland transformed into a more inclusive developed park and natural area.
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(Portland, OR) –

Southeast Portland’s reimagined Errol Heights Park is now open, with work substantially complete. Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) just completed work at the 16-acre developed park and natural area, located in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood. The project included restoring natural habitat, establishing wildlife viewing spots, improving trails and constructing paths for better accessibility, and putting in a new playground, picnic areas, and splash pad.

A parent watches their child play at the new Errol Heights Park playground on a recent day in Portland.

A parent watches their child play at the new Errol Heights Park playground on a recent day in Portland.

After planning, permitting, and robust community engagement starting in 2018, the majority of construction was completed by December, with some final touches undergoing completion. While Errol Heights Park is ready for visitors today, PP&R will wait until spring when weather conditions are more favorable to host its free, public grand opening celebration.

The park design focused on being accessible for people of all abilities and is receiving praise for achieving that goal.

“I was at the new Errol Heights Park just a few days ago,” says former Portland Parks Board member Ian Jaquiss, who uses a wheelchair. “I was able to easily navigate all parts of it. And, I have to say, that is the most accessible, beautiful park I have seen.”

“Errol Heights Park has long been a beloved community gathering spot focused on nature and habitat,” says Portland Culture & Livability Commissioner Dan Ryan, who oversees PP&R. “But with the new features which increase accessibility, more people can get around and enjoy the unique space. The elevated walkway, playground, and splash pad are just some of the new park features which are simply wonderful.”

New park amenities include:

  • Playground with natural play features, designed for people with a variety of skills and abilities
  • Portland Loo (restroom)
  • Splash pad water play feature
  • Skate spot (smaller skateboard area)
  • Elevated boardwalk and connection (ADA-accessible)
  • Basketball court (half-court)
  • Entry landscape beds
  • Lawn area
  • Wetland viewpoints and science education platform
  • Trails (ADA-accessible)
  • Public art sculpture
  • More than 450 trees planted
  • Native plants
  • 11 picnic tables (five ADA-accessible)

The elevated boardwalk, a signature feature of the park, enables all visitors to climb a hill that connects the upper and lower sections of the park. This was identified as an essential feature during the project’s community engagement process.

“We have reimagined what a hybrid park and natural area can be,” says PP&R Director Adena Long. “Restored wetlands and wildlife viewing spots complement new play areas and picnic grounds. This is an impressive, unique, and beautiful Portland park!”
Funding Sources

In early August 2018, former Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz increased project funding for Errol Heights Park from $5.3 million to $12 million. This made a full park development and natural area restoration possible. Among other improvements, the additional funding allowed PP&R to design a more inclusive play area.

The $12 million in funding came from System Development Charges (SDCs), not from General Fund tax dollars. SDCs are one-time fees assessed on new development in Portland. These fees help ensure that, as the city grows in population, its quality of life keeps pace with its infrastructure needs.

Public Art Project Update

The artist team of Terresa White and Mike Suri was selected to create a sculptural artwork that celebrates the unique landscape and ecology of Errol Heights Park. The artwork is nestled in the park’s upper plateau. This location makes it easy for neighbors, gardeners, walkers, birders, skateboarders, and all other visitors to enjoy it.

The sculpture includes tall, slender, steel forms with cup-like organic shapes that echo the park's trees, collecting and draining rainwater. The bronze elements of the sculpture include three human faces as well as some of the plants and animals found in the park.

Project Background

In 2018, former Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz appointed a Community Advisory Committee to update the 2005 Errol Heights Park Master Plan and set community priorities for the construction of park improvements and public engagement. PP&R contracted with architectural landscape firm Mayer/Reed to develop the new park design and a proposal for park programming.

During the park development, PP&R coordinated with staff from the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Bureau of Environmental Services, who were completing nearby street and storm water improvement projects. This coordination helped to reduce impacts to the neighborhood.

For more project information, visit: portland.gov/parks/construction/errol-heights-park-project

A Sustainable Future

Portland’s parks and recreation system is facing a major maintenance backlog of around $600 million. In recent years, several assets have failed and had to be closed or removed to ensure public safety. Without new, stable funding, the bureau predicts that one in five PP&R assets will fail in the next 15 years.

Together with Commissioner Ryan, PP&R continues to  search for stable funding to support maintenance at the levels needed to prevent future closures. The bureau and commissioner’s office are exploring various ways to help close this funding gap through PP&R’s Sustainable Future Initiative.

For more information about PP&R funding, visit: portland.gov/parks/funding-sources

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