Monday, June 1, 2009

Friends of Lents Park to hold meeting Wednesday

Friends of Lents Park, a grassroots organization of Lents area residents seeking to save Lents Park as an open, accessible neighborhood asset 365 nights a year, will meet Wednesday, June 3, to discuss its opposition to a plan to close parts of the park.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the gazebo at Lents Park, which would have to be moved to make way for the risky 9,000-seat stadium planned for the Portland Beavers.

Construction of a stadium could cost the Lents Urban Renewal Area about $42 million, money which would otherwise be spent on developing new businesses in the neighborhood, and making home ownership more affordable for prospective Lents residents.

At the same time, a stadium would make parts of Lents Park inaccessible on 72 game nights a year. Neighbors of the park would no longer see children playing baseball outside their windows, instead being forced to look at stadium spotlights and listen to public address announcements lasting well past 10 p.m.

"While a stadium is being pitched as a panacea for development in Lents, history has shown that minor league stadiums outside of downtown areas do not spur development," said Nick Christensen, a Lents resident and group member. "The stadium plan is based on too many suppositions and too much risk to Lents residents, while Merritt Paulson has little-to-nothing invested in the economic growth of the neighborhood around Lents Park."

Lents Park is a 38-acre green gem in the heart of Lents. It features walking paths, playgrounds, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, basketball courts and a community garden — all of which are teeming with activity most days of the week. It also has hundreds of old trees, many of which would be cut down for construction of a stadium.

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