It’s truly fall out there. The frost has arrived, yellow and oranges are popping everywhere, but plenty of trees and shrubs are still sporting greenery, though even their leaves are thinning out and it’s possible to spot squirrel dreys in their branches.
But the biggest sign that it’s fall is that we just had an election. The renewal of Metro’s parks and nature levy was on the ballot, and we’re so pleased that voters came out with strong support. More than 70% of voters said yes to levy, a rate that matches the previous levy renewal and the 2019 parks and nature bond measure.
Each of you are part of making the levy renewal a success, whether directly or indirectly. You’ve been engaged in Metro’s work to create a unique parks and nature system, and through that engagement you’ve helped our Councilors and our staff make our parks and natural areas better and better.
Greater Portland faces many challenges, but people in this region continue to rally around creating connections to nature and also providing nature the space it needs to thrive. It’s humbling to have that support, support that has been constant since 1995 when voters first passed a Metro greenspace bond measure.
Extending the levy for another five years will ensure that Metro can continue to deliver on its promises to protect clean water, restore fish and wildlife habitat and connect people to nature close to home by providing operations, maintenance and programming that is essential to supporting the type of bond investments described below.
We know that with your help, we will continue to improve on this important legacy.
Parks and Nature bond updates
Protect and restore land
Contact: Shannon Leary, [email protected]
The real estate team continues to build relationships with landowners and create a pipeline of opportunities for acquisition of the region’s special places in alignment with the targets and goals approved by the Metro Council this past spring. Most recently, Metro purchased a small but significant parcel that includes 115 feet of Beaver Creek and is surrounded by Metro’s South Beaver Creek Greenway Natural Area. A few weeks earlier, Metro purchased 40 acres in Washington County, creating the new Fir Clearing Creek Canyon Natural Area.
This brings our total number of acquisitions with the 2019 parks and nature bond to 10, protecting over 380 acres.
Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants
Contact: Crista Gardner, [email protected]
The Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants pilot is launching this fall with a focus on engaging the community around opportunities for up to $2 million in funding in Metro District 4, which includes Forest Grove, Cornelius, Aloha, Hillsboro and areas of Beaverton and unincorporated Washington County north of Tualatin Valley Highway. The pilot uses a novel participatory approach that gives community members a direct voice in choosing which projects in their communities to recommend for funding to the Metro Council.
The team has hired a community engagement firm and is currently meeting with local agencies and partners in District 4 to launch an idea-collection phase this winter, which includes opportunities for community members to share their ideas for what type of projects should be created. Learn more and stay updated about how to participate in this process during the upcoming idea collection and community vote phases.
Take care of Metro parks
Contact: Melissa Bergstrom, [email protected]
At Blue Lake Regional Park, bond-funded improvement projects are continuing. Demolition of derelict park buildings is nearly complete. The first phase of the project to connect the park to the City of Fairview’s municipal water supply is complete. Design for the next phase of construction on water distribution lines and updates to the sanitary sewer system are nearing completion, and work on site is anticipated to begin next year. The park remains open during this work, which is intended to help prepare the park for future improvements or make investments that allow Metro to better care for all its parks, like a new maintenance building that will serve as a hub for Metro’s entire park system.
Contact: Antonia Machado, [email protected]
The local share team continues to work with the region’s park providers to identify and submit priority projects in their communities for local share funding. The City of Tualatin recently used its local share allocation to acquire a property in the Basalt Creek area. The 6.7-acre property will provide a park to an affordable housing development going in across Boones Ferry Road and also include a natural area.
The team continues to create space for shared learning and collaboration around addressing the bond criteria including a roundtable on community engagement best practices on November 2.
Walking and biking trails
Contact: Robert Spurlock, [email protected]
On September 29, the Metro Council voted to award $20 million in parks and nature bond funds to trail planning and construction across the region. These important investments in trails are a watershed for the region’s unique trail system and represent years of work between Metro, our local partners, and the region’s passionate trail advocates. This award includes funding that advances important trail connections including funds to: fill a gap in the Gresham-Fairview trail between Sandy Boulevard and Halsey Street; design the Crescent Park Greenway Trail and Brookwood Ped Overpass in the City of Hillsboro; engineer a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Highway 26, a crucial link in the Westside Trail; and build a major gap in the 40-Mile Loop, replacing dangerous on-street bike lanes with a separated path, while building on past bond investments.
This $20 million in projects represents a big step forward in advancing our regional trails vision and goals for a more equitable and resilient transportation system. Now the team’s attention is focused on working with the local agencies who have received these grants to advance the project work. There’s some great information about the awards from this Bike Portland article.
Large-scale community visions
Contact: MG Devereux, [email protected]
With the notice of funding availability for the large-scale community visions pilot launched this summer, the team is working to ensure we are aware of all potential projects. The Metro Council directed the program to support innovative capital projects that bring together nature, job opportunities, affordable housing and safe transportation.
We have received four formal letters of intent and officially closed the window for letters of intent as of the end of October. The letters represent a variety of interests and are all exciting projects. Staff are working to review and meet with the proposers to gather additional information, so that formal recommendations can be made to Council in early 2023.
Natural Areas and Capital Program Performance Oversight Committee
Contact: Beth Cohen, [email protected]
We recently wrapped a meeting of the Natural Areas Oversight Committee on September 27. The committee continued its work to review and use tools to monitor bond progress and impact and deepen its understanding of all the different programs and expectations of the bond. The committee will have an optional working session on bond evaluation on November 16. Its next full meeting is December 15.