Over the summer, parks and nature projects across greater Portland are receiving more than $14 million in funding through Metro’s voter-approved 2019 parks and nature bond measure.
In June, Metro committed nearly $11.6 million to Portland Parks and Recreation for six park improvement projects and $1.3 million to the City of Wilsonville to purchase three acres that will connect the Frog Pond area to a regional trail.
In early August, the addition of a seventh project, a new park in Oak Grove to be built by North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District, brings the total to more than $14 million.
The approved projects are part of the 2019 bond’s Local Share program. Local Share has funded parks and nature projects in the region since 1996. This latest set of projects show the program’s new criteria centered around inclusion for people of color and people with varying physical ability.
The Local Share program allocates a total of $92 million to the 27 park providers in the region, which include cities and parks and recreation districts. The money funds parks projects that, first and foremost, connect communities to nature. They also must be a capital project. This generally means construction of facilities or purchasing of a property. And they must meet other criteria including community engagement, climate change resilience and advancing racial equity.
Local Share has been supporting parks and nature projects since 1995, but new criteria for the projects was added in the 2019 bond, specifically language outlining that projects must help advance racial equity. Program manager Antonia Machado said Metro works closely with park providers on navigating these new standards.
“I start the conversation with park providers, and we talk about the criteria and projects that they're considering, and then we talk through how they plan to meet the requirements given that the criteria are new,” Machado said.
According to Machado, the goal of this collaborative process is to ensure projects that are important to neighborhoods and communities meet the bond’s criteria so they can be funded through Local Share. The program is a critical part of Metro’s efforts to expand access to nature for everyone in greater Portland and has sparked discussions between Metro has and local park providers as they strive to answer the question: What does it mean to connect with nature?
“How does that intersect with making spaces accessible, especially for folks living with disabilities,” Machado asks. “We want to be connecting people to nature, but we also really want to create inclusive spaces.”
The recent round of projects features a focus on increased accessibility to nature with two projects creating ADA compliant improvements.
The approved projects include:
Portland Parks and Nature
$2 million to replace outdated lighting along pathways at Portland parks
The new LED lighting will be DarkSky compliant, meaning the lights will be energy efficient and reduce disruption to wildlife.
$3 million for ADA accessibility improvements to Hoyt Arboretum
The work includes resurfacing the Bristlecone Pine trail, creating new picnic and seating areas, and improving the parking lot.
$2 million to improve existing trails and add new trails at Rose City Golf Course
The project will provide low-income communities and others near the golf course a place to walk, jog, and connect with nature within a short walking distance from home.
$600,000 to replace the wooden boardwalk at Whitaker Ponds Natural Area
When complete, the project will provide ADA-compliant access to a rare freshwater pond in a diverse urban neighborhood.
$4 million for Wilkes Creek Headwaters Natural Area
This funding will support the design and construction of portions of a master plan for a 20-acre natural area hybrid park at the headwaters of Wilkes Creek in East Portland.
$1.3 million for Frog Pond West
The funding will be used to purchase nearly three acres in Wilsonville’s Frog Pond West area which will provide neighborhood connectivity, connection to the Boeckman Creek Regional Trail, and safe routes to the future Frog Pond School.
North Clackamas County Parks and Recreation District
$1.2 million to build the Concord Property Community Park
The funding will be used to build a new community park and play area on the nearly 6-acre Concord Property between the cities of Gladstone and Milwaukie. The park will be situated alongside the community center and the new Oak Lodge Library.
Learn more about how Metro is using funding from the 2019 parks and nature bond to improve our region at oregonmetro.gov/parksandnaturebond.