PRK-3.01 - Accepting Gifts & Memorials

Administrative Rules Adopted by Bureaus Pursuant to Rule Making Authority (ARB)
Policy category
Policy number


Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Parks & Recreation Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority


The texture and cultural heritage of Portland is enriched by the beauty of our parks and the recreational opportunities they offer. Since Portland was incorporated in 1852 the gifts of land, fountains, memorials and other park amenities have added to the ambiance of our city.

While gifts and memorials may enrich a park experience for park users, open space itself is a very precious commodity. The City of Portland considers the open spaces in our parks as complete, offering an unrestricted setting to encounter a wide range of experiences. It is the responsibility of Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) to preserve the open, tranquil quality of Portland’s parks. Therefore, the goal of this policy is to ensure the limited open space available used for park improvements that support the mission of Portland Parks & Recreation. Therefore, a thoughtful review process is provided to encourage gifts and donations that:

  • Cover the total cost of a project;
  • Is sensitive to all park users;
  • Is sensitive to the design standards required for public spaces;
  • Is sensitive to the long-term cost of maintenance and the distribution of maintenance money;
  • Provides park improvements to park deficient neighborhoods.

The type of gifts and /or memorials that would be considered most acceptable by this policy include:

  • Public art of the highest quality that has been approved by the Regional Arts and Culture Council according to its Guidelines for Donations of Artwork, and
  • Traditional park amenities and facilities that would contribute to Portland’s system of parks & recreation.

Any party wishing to locate a gift, memorial or tribute in a Portland park should contact Portland Parks & Recreation at the earliest possible time for a consultation on the review and acceptance process.


Any new gift or memorial will be expected to enhance a park without hindering the quality of the open space. This policy describes a process through which applicants are encouraged to work with city staff to determine how a gift or memorial can enhance the experience of park users as well as meet the needs of a donor. In order to preserve the general nature of open space, donors will be asked to broaden their search for an appropriate location by considering private property as well as public. Portland Parks & Recreation will more favorably consider accepting the donation of land specifically purchased for a gift or memorial than placing a gift or memorial in existing open space.

This policy also provides a method for defining the total cost of a gift or memorial and establishes a method through which donors will be asked to include within their donation the cost of design review, project coordination, construction oversight and part of the cost of ongoing maintenance.


  • Policy for Naming and Renaming Parks, Facilities and Features
  • Master Plans for specific parks
  • Parks 2020 Vision Plan
  • Regional Arts and Cultural Council (RACC) policy for the donation of public artwork


Memorial – an item, object or monument established to preserve the memory of a deceased person(s) or an event that occurred in the past.

Tribute – an item, object or gift designed to acknowledge the contributions of living people to society. Projects recognizing people with illnesses such as AIDS or cancer are considered tributes.

Public Art – works of art acquired through the Public Art Program.

Park amenity – typical park improvements that contribute to the traditional use of park land. Items include benches, play structures, picnic tables/shelters, sport facilities, trails, small plaques, etc.

Substantial gift, memorial or tribute – Anything other than a typical park amenity will be considered a substantial gift. Examples of a substantial gift, memorial or tribute include sculptures, permanent artwork, fountains, gardens and plazas.



Purpose: To review complex gift or memorial proposals to ensure the intent of this policy is properly applied.

Members: The Director of Portland Parks & Recreation will appoint six standing committee members. Additional members will be appointed as needed for each proposal. Standing committee members will include representatives from RACC, the Bureau of Development Services, the Parks Board, a historian, a design professional and an assistant to the Commissioner-in-charge of Parks. Neighborhood representatives and appropriate PP&R staff will be assigned depending on the proposal.


The Gifts and Memorials Committee will be convened to review any proposal that meets any of the following:

  • Is for any "substantial" gift, memorial or tribute (see above definition)
  • Is for a memorial that will attract the general public
  • Does not meet an obvious park need or is not consistent with an approved master plan.
  • Goes beyond the donation of an object or park amenity to include a spatial experience.

Meeting schedule: the Gifts & Memorials Committee will only be convened a maximum of two times a year to review proposals that meet the above criteria. Therefore, a proposal may have to wait up to six months for the review process to begin.

As donations and memorials vary greatly in their impact on parks, the review process should be tailored according to the proposal’s complexity. There are three levels of review, which in some cases can be simplified.

Early contact and research

  1. Sponsor should meet with PP&R staff at the earliest possible time to discuss the review process for the specific proposal.
  2. Preliminary research regarding land use and legal concerns, Master Plan requirements, potential community concerns and costs will be conducted by both the donor and PP&R staff. The Regional Arts and Culture Council will be consulted to determine if the donation would be considered public art, in which case RACC would first review the proposal for appropriateness to the public art collection.
  3. Application submitted with information regarding intent of proposal, cost estimates, size, siting, timeline and a site drawing.

Initial Review of Proposal Concept

This review is focused on the idea or concept. Design drawings are premature at this point.

  1. Depending on the nature of the request, there are two options for review:
  2. a) TYPICAL PARK AMENITY: PP&R staff considers land use requirements, legal requirements, park design issues, potential public concern, maintenance issues, and recreational issues. Proposal is reviewed against approval criteria included in this policy. The true cost of proposal is estimated if appropriate at this stage of proposal’s development.
  3. b) SUBSTANTIAL GIFT, MEMORIAL OR TRIBUTE: The Gifts and Memorials Committee reviews the request in two separate meetings. The first offers the applicant an opportunity to present their ideas and hear feedback. The committee will also give feedback regarding public input and PP&R staff will draft a public involvement plan. In the second meeting, the Committee will review the formal request from the sponsor in terms of the approval criteria included in this policy.
  4. Public input will be gathered according to a plan approved by PP&R’s public involvement manager.
  5. Recommendations – depending on the scale of the proposal, there are two possible courses:
  6. a) Staff decision – The Memorial Policy Coordinator approves or denies a "typical park amenity" proposal given consensus among all reviewers.
  7. b) Director of Portland Parks & Recreation, in consultation with the Committee, approves or denies any "substantial gift, memorial or tribute" or proposals which increases the liability for the Bureau, presents conflicts among user groups, or when there is not consensus among reviewers.
  8. Letter sent to donor. If approved, an estimate of costs for further review is included.

Design Review Process

This process develops a specific design based on the successful completion of the concept review.

  1. Determine cost of Project Management and negotiate this fee with applicant.
  2. PP&R assigns a Project Manager.
  3. Project Manager works with applicant to write a scope of work for a design professional. Scope of work must include review and approval from PP&R Operations Division as well as a process for public input. Design firm is hired and scope of work managed by either the donor or PP&R Project Manager.
  4. If a Gifts & Memorials Committee was formed during the review, the final design is presented to that Committee for approval.
  5. PP&R obtains required permits, which are paid for by the donor.

Appeals process

Since this is a Portland Parks & Recreation policy, not a land use decision, there is no legal appeal associated with this policy. The Director’s decision is final.


Approving or denying any gift, memorial or tribute is wholly within the discretion of Portland Parks & Recreation and no individual or organization has any right to make any improvement or place any items in public parks, regardless of whether they think their proposal meets the following approval criteria. Approval criteria focus on three general categories:

Significance of event/person being memorialized or significance of a gift

  • A person memorialized must have been deceased for a minimum of three years or an event must have occurred at least three years ago.
  • The memorial has timeless qualities and makes a statement of significance to future generations.
  • The memorial represents a person or event deemed significant to Portland’s history.
  • The gift or memorial must be consistent with the mission of Portland Parks & Recreation.


Donors may be asked to broaden their search for an appropriate location and consider other public or privately owned spaces which may provide a more suitable location.

  • The proposed site offers opportunities for enhancement without diminishing a park’s ability to offer undefined open space for quiet contemplation and/or spontaneous activities.
  • The increased use of a park due to a gift or memorial is appropriate for the park’s context and surrounding uses.
  • The quality, scale, and character of the gift or memorial are at a level commensurate with the particular park setting. (Also to be considered during project design)
  • There should be some specific geographic justification for the memorial being located in that spot.
  • Alternative sites in rights-of-way, private property or other public property were considered and determined inappropriate.

Project Design

  • Proposal must be in concurrence with the Park Master Plan. If a park master plan does not exist, a Needs Assessment of the park’s service area must be completed in order to determine the need for future park elements and circulation patterns.
  • The quality, scale, and character of the memorial are at a level commensurate with the particular park setting.
  • Contributes to the aesthetic quality of the park setting.
  • Reuse, rehabilitate or restore an existing park feature where appropriate.
  • Addresses existing and/or future maintenance concerns by meeting PP&R’s design standards and specifications.
  • Meets the requirements of ADA by providing accessibility to all park users.
  • Enhances a park by adding elements that add to identity and ambiance.
  • The proposal does not create any public safety or security issues.


  1. The donor will involve PP&R at the earliest possible stage of proposal development, prior to a particular park site being contemplated.
  2. At any point in the review process, the Director of Portland Parks & Recreation can halt the review process by denying the request.
  3. If a design professional is to be hired by the donor, PP&R must be involved in creating the scope of work and approving each design phase of the project.
  4. The donor is responsible for complying with all federal, state and local laws, which might include competitive bidding and state prevailing wage laws.
  5. Applicant will bear the cost of all necessary permits, approvals, project management, design, installation, manufacture and maintenance of the gift or memorial, even if Portland Parks & Recreation provides these services. Budget details of these project elements will be spelled out in an agreement with the donor.
  6. A revocable permit from PP&R will be required. Proof of general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance will be required from the contractor and/or organizations doing the installation.
  7. No contingencies shall be placed on the acceptance of a gift by the donor. Acknowledgement of the donor in the form of a 5" x 8" plaque is allowed. (Gifts from corporate donors that have a requirement for corporate sponsorship fall under the Corporate Sponsorship Policy.)
  8. Improvements made in a public space become the property of the City and are subject to the laws, policies, and procedures that govern park property.


Defining Project Review and Construction Management costs

The following assumptions will be used to estimate the cost of PP&R’s staff time that will be needed to ensure the project meets park specifications and is properly installed. These assumptions may be superseded by more specific estimates provided during the review process. The applicant will be asked to cover 100% of these costs.

Design Review & Project Coordination – cost equals 3% of estimated construction cost.

Construction Oversight – cost equals 5% of estimated construction cost.

Park modifications and other incidental costs required because of the improvement – cost to be estimated during the review process outlined in this policy.

Defining Annual Maintenance Costs

The level of maintenance varies depending on the nature of the project. However, as a basic rule of thumb, annual maintenance equals 5% of construction cost. This assumptions will be used to calculate annual O&M costs unless superseded by more specific estimates provided by PP&R’s Operations staff. Portland Parks & Recreation management may update this assumptions as needed.

If the donor will be maintaining the improvement, the above percentage does not apply, but there may still be maintenance costs that Park Operations will estimate at the time of project review.

Maintenance Endowment

In order to have funds available on an annual basis, a Park Maintenance Endowment sub-fund has been established within the Parks Endowment Fund. The earnings from this endowment will contribute to the maintenance of improvements contributed by private parties. Any annual O&M costs not covered by the maintenance endowment are the responsibility of the General Fund. Improvements requiring ongoing General Fund support must be approved by the City Council before the donation is accepted.

In general, donors will be asked to contribute enough money to the endowment so that the earnings from their contribution cover 40% of the maintenance of the asset. Assuming a 4% investment return, 40% of the maintenance cost is equivalent to 150% of the capital cost for plant infrastructure and 50% of the capital cost for other park improvements.

Summary of Added Costs to be Requested from Donors

(Percentage of estimated direct capital cost)

 Type of ImprovementDesign Review & Proj. Mgmt Construction Oversight40% of Maintenance Cost for EndowmentTOTAL ADDED COSTS TO BE REQUESTED
Park Improvement3%5%50%60%

* Summary does not include incidental expenses that will be estimated at the time of the Citizen-Initiated Proposal review.

In-Kind Donations

In cases where the donor offers to make an in-kind donation rather than a cash donation, PP&R staff will estimate the capital cost of the improvements and request a cash donation to cover the above cost components, using the same percentage assumptions.


In some cases it might be reasonable to ask the private party to cover a greater or lesser percentage of the maintenance. The Director of Portland Parks & Recreation, under the advice of the Planning Supervisor, can make exceptions based on the following criteria:

  • The community’s need for the improvement
  • How much the amenity strengthens the park system as a whole
  • Whether it is located in a park that is under-developed and lacking sufficient amenities
  • The financial capacity of the donor
  • Whether the annual maintenance cost is so low as to be negligible

*By Resolution adopting this policy, the City of Portland will no longer consider memorials (with the exception of benches) in the following parks: Waterfront Park, South Park Blocks, North Park Blocks, Washington Park, Jamison Square, Ira Keller Park, Pettygrove Park, Lovejoy Park, and Chapman and Lownsdale Squares.


Filed for inclusion in PPD September 29, 2004.

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