In June, Metro committed nearly $9 million to five parks improvement projects that focus on community accessibility to nature. These projects were submitted by Portland Parks and Recreation and the City of Wilsonville. The approved projects are funded through the Local Share program, part of the voter-approved 2019 parks and nature bond.
The Local Share program allocates $92 million in total to the 27 park providers in the region for projects in their communities. These projects, first and foremost, connect communities to nature. They also must be a capital project; generally, that falls into construction or acquisition. But 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 the criteria for the projects are newer, as they were added in the 2019 bond. Program manager Antonia Machado said Metro works closely with park providers, namely parks and recreation districts as well as cities, on these new standards.
“I start the conversation with parks 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 is new,” Machado said.
According to Machado, the goal is to get projects that are important to neighborhoods and communities up to standard 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. It’s a discussion Metro has with 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 approved projects features a focus on increased accessibility to nature with two projects creating ADA compliant improvements. Four of the approved applications came from Portland Parks and Recreation. The other project was submitted by the City of Wilsonville.
The approved projects include:
Portland Parks & Recreation
$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$2 million to replace outdated lighting along pathways at Portland parks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.
$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.
$1.3 million for Frog Pond West
The funds will 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.
Learn more about how Metro is using funding from the 2019 parks and nature bond to improve our region.