Spring provided us one last hurrah on June 17 with showers and drizzles during the grand opening celebration for Chehalem Ridge Nature Park. The raindrops didn’t stop the seniors from Centro Cultural De Washington County’s Edad de Oro program members from a group salsa session.
Centro Cultural was a committed partner throughout the park’s creation, and many of its amenities were designed to serve the needs of Latine seniors. Plenty of benches, accessible trails and a relaxing day-use area are all park features were cited by community members during engagement events. Everyone can enjoy and benefit from them.
The next weeks are going to be much warmer, with full-on summer temperatures some days. When temperatures soar, many folks in the region head to rivers to cool off. We want to encourage everyone to wear a life jacket when they go swimming in natural bodies of water. Life jackets are for everyone.
If you follow Metro on social media, you’ll see posts about water safety pretty regularly this summer. If your organization wants to help get the word out about water safety, we have a social media kit with art and posts that you can use. All of the content is translated into Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese (simplified) and Russian. Please reach out to Cristle Jose at [email protected] if you’d like to help us keep folks safe while they enjoy the water.
Parks and Nature levy and bond updates
Update on parks and nature local option levy
Contact: Beth Cohen, [email protected]
For more than two decades, voters have repeatedly trusted Metro to protect clean water, restore fish and wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for people to connect with nature close to home. Metro’s parks and nature levy is an essential complement to Metro’s parks and nature bond investments. Where Metro’s park and nature bond builds parks and buys natural areas, the levy funds are used to run parks and restore natural areas.
The current levy funding expires in 2023 and the Metro Council is considering asking voters to renew the levy in the near future. A potential renewal would extend the levy for five years and would allow Metro to continue to care for treasured natural places, make Metro parks and natural areas safe and welcoming through robust park operations, and work directly with community to help deepen their connection to nature close to home.
A potential levy renewal would not raise taxes. The rate would remain low at 9.6 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value or about $25 dollars for a home with a $250,000 assessed value.
A potential renewal is even more essential now. Parks and natural spaces continue to be a critical health resource for our communities as they navigate the pandemic and as our region continues to experience extreme weather events.
At the Metro Council’s June 14 work session, staff provided an update on the work done to engage partners and develop a framework, based on the Council’s direction, that doesn’t raise taxes, continues what works and allows for adaptiveness to changing conditions. The team is now focused on sharing updates on the work with our partners across the region and will return to Council on July 12. For more information, visit www.oregonmetro.gov/futurefunding.
Take care of Metro parks
Contact: Melissa Bergstrom, [email protected]
Thanks to the bond, initial investments to update the health, safety and accessibility of Blue Lake Regional Park are underway. The park remains open.
This summer, Metro plans to begin removing several older park buildings that have been deemed unsafe and no longer serve park visitors. Construction on a new water main line for the park will begin after Labor Day. Design for phase 2 of utility improvements (new water distribution lines within the park and sanitary system upgrades) is also underway.
The Blue Lake fishing pier demolition project and Curry Maintenance Facility improvements both have general contractors secured to support project design and are advancing towards construction. The Curry Maintenance Facility at Blue Lake supports park operations throughout the region. The facility improvement is the first Metro project to implement Construction Careers Pathways goals in the contract negotiated through the recently signed regional workforce agreement. Construction Career Pathways framework is a plan to increase access to the trades for women and people of color in greater Portland. Construction work won’t begin this year, but pre-construction services such as constructability review and cost estimating are underway.
Walking and biking trails
Contact: Robert Spurlock, [email protected]
From safer sidewalks and bikeways to trails and road crossings, there are 29 projects requesting funding to improve trails, sidewalks and roadways in communities across the region. There is $67.3 million available to support these projects, $20 million of which comes from the 2019 parks and nature bond. There are not enough funds to support all of the projects that have applied for funding.
A public comment period seeking feedback on the projects applying for federal funding and funding from the 2019 parks and nature bond closed on June 21. The feedback from the public comment period will help the Metro Council and other regional decision-makers prioritize projects to receive funding. Project awards are expected this fall.
Contact: Antonia Machado, [email protected]
The local share team has been busy working with the region’s park providers to identify priority projects in their communities that can be funded by the bond.
Most recently, Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation district board approved an intergovernmental agreement with Metro that releases funding for three priority projects. The projects include replacing a beloved wetland boardwalk, two accessible nature play structures and a new park in the growing North Bethany neighborhood.
The projects will receive up to $5.3 million local share funds.
Large scale community visions
Contact: [email protected]
The large scale community visions program took a big step forward today when Metro Council approved a pilot program handbook to guide an initial $10 million grant cycle. The Council approval of the pilot program handbook allows staff to start working with regional partners to advance this vision for catalytic investment in regional community greenspaces.
The program will kick off this summer to support regional-scale projects that increase access to nature for people in urban areas and/or improve the resilience of urban natural areas. The Council included this program in the 2019 bond measure to fund larger-scale projects that uplift communities by leveraging and connecting significant investment in habitat restoration to job opportunities, affordable housing, and safe reliable transportation.
The program is designed to fund projects that are dedicated to improving access to nature and/or climate resilience in urban areas with minimum budget of $6 million minimum including a $2 million investment in habitat uplift. A notice of funding availability will be released soon to encourage potential project sponsors to submit a letter of interest.