All of us at Metro hope you are doing well in the wake of the worst fires to affect greater Portland and the surrounding communities. Our friends in Clackamas County have especially been in our thoughts, and we hope you are well and safe. Many members of the Metro family, including quite a few folks in Parks and Nature, were in the evacuation zones. We don’t think any of us have ever been so thankful for the arrival of rain a few weeks ago.
If you or anyone you know has been affected by the fires, please visit the Clackamas and Washington counties’ websites to learn about the resources that are available and for ways to offer help.
The role of climate change in the fires is undeniable, and they showed why climate resilience is a criteria of Metro’s parks and nature bond measure. The bond work continues through all this and I'm glad to be able to share an update on our work.
Oversight committee recruitment
Independent community oversight has been essential to Metro's transparency, accountability and delivery on promises made to voters in each of its funding measures. Applications are now open for the Parks and Nature oversight committee until Nov. 16, 2020. This independent committee will keep Metro accountable and transparent in its use of the $475 million from the 2019 parks and nature bond measure and the capital funds from the parks and natural areas levy, which raises about $16 million a year. Committee members will be appointed by the Metro Council.
Metro is looking for individuals who love parks and natural spaces and have a deep commitment to advancing racial equity as well as knowledge in areas such as finance, conservation, environmental law, tribal sovereignty, and other topics to serve on an independent committee to provide oversight of Parks and Nature’s capital investments.
The oversight committee will:
- Review progress of the bond measure’s goals and projects.
- Ensure that the refinement and implementation of the parks and nature bond measure is protecting water quality and habitat and connecting people to nature.
- Ensure projects fulfill the criteria of racial equity, community engagement and climate resilience.
- Provide oversight on investments from the parks and natural areas local-option levy.
- Work with staff to develop a set of outcomes that will evaluate bond performance.
The Metro Council will appoint 13 to 17 committee members who reflect a broad range of personal and professional experience. The committee will also reflect the diversity of the region.
The Council seeks a mix of representatives who collectively demonstrate:
- A commitment to racial equity, social and environmental justice, diversity and inclusion
- Experience, skills and knowledge in finance, land acquisition, conservation, construction, environmental law, working lands and tribal sovereignty
- Personal, lived experience with how Metro decisions impact people of color, the disability community, and the urban Indigenous community
- The ability to work collaboratively with people of diverse perspectives and experiences
- Connections with historically marginalized communities in greater Portland
- Understanding of the geographic and demographic diversity of the region
Committee member commitments
- Four times a year, attend two- to three-hour meetings online or in-person when it’s safe to gather.
- Spend an additional one to two hours preparing for meetings.
- Serve a one- or two-year term.
Stipends, as well as childcare, technical assistance, interpretation, accessibility assistance and other supports for participation will be provided for committee members upon request.
Please use this link to find the application form online and a fact sheet with more information about the opportunity. The deadline for submitting applications is midnight Monday, November 16, 2020. If you would like to request a paper copy of an application, please email [email protected].
Ongoing and upcoming refinement work
- Applying the bond criteria, racial equity, community engagement and climate resilience to the development of the six program areas.
- Setting goals, strategies and resources to advance contracting with minority-owned, women-owned and emerging small businesses (known collectively as COBID-certified firms) and diversify workforce participation.
- Continue building and refining an engagement plan with specific strategies and tools to ensure that community members can meaningfully participate and inform upcoming decisions, especially during COVID.
- Continuing to build partnerships with the region’s culturally specific organizations to develop bond programs.
Protect and restore land
Bond funding: $155 million
The protect and restore land program is continuing to collect information, maps and data needed to assess opportunities and priorities for acquisition in the 24 target areas outlined in the bond. During this phase staff are building new and existing partnerships across the region to ensure that our approach to this work is collaborative and reflective of the overarching bond criteria. In the coming months Metro will provide opportunities for review and feedback on the data that's been collected and how it will inform the eventual priorities for acquisition as a first step toward refinement of this program.
Local parks and nature projects (local share)
Bond funding: $92 million
The local share program team is developing a set of guidelines that will translate the bond and program criteria into goals, requirements and resources for greater Portland's 27 local park providers that will receive local share allocation. These guidelines will shape future conversations about intergovernmental agreements with these local jurisdictions. Metro expects to have a draft of the guidelines for them to review in early November with a final set of guidelines anticipated by the end of November.
Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants
Bond funding: $40 million
The Metro Council and community partners have both been clear that the capital grants and participatory grant-making pilot should get up and running quickly, and the parks and nature department is thrilled to now have a program manager to kick start this important work. Crista Gardner, whom you might know from her years of work developing and managing the parks and natural areas levy grants program, will develop a work plan and timeline for this program, with a focus on kicking off the participatory grant-making conversation in the next few months.
Metro park improvements
Bond funding: $98 million
Metro is moving ahead with investments in urgent infrastructure needs at Blue Lake and Oxbow regional parks and Graham Oaks Nature Park to address crucial health and safety needs. These are basic utility projects, like water and sewer connections, where details are dictated by engineering needs and code compliance. These projects align with the direction community members have given to take care of what we have. Staff expects to convene in-depth community conversations about how to prioritize future investments in Metro’s existing and undeveloped sites in 2021.
Walking and biking trails
Bond funding $40 million
The walking and biking trails program is working to gather mapping data and information about trail gaps for potential future acquisition and developing a future trails grant program. The team is planning outreach to local jurisdictional partners and broader community surveys for fall and winter to better understand priorities for trails in the region.
Large-scale community visions
Bond funding: $50 million
Staff met with the Metro Council on October 1 about how to develop this program, which is intended to help deliver large-scale projects that connect to affordable housing and safe, reliable transportation. It also includes $20 million set aside for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project. Metro anticipates having at least two phases of project solicitation for these funds — an initial Council-led project solicitation process in 2021 and a more collaborative community-driven solicitation process in the end of 2021 or early 2022 that will ensure strong representation from historically marginalized communities.
Stay tuned as the bond team continue to share updates and opportunities to engage in this process later this fall and winter.