Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Master Plan Homestretch!

The Lents Park planning process is in the homestretch!

1) Make plans to attend the final meeting of the Project Advisory Committee at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 16 at Portland Youth Builders, 4816 SE 92nd Avenue. This is the meeting where your representatives will adopt the final Master Plan for Lents Park.

2) Contribute your opinion and prepare for the PAC meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 15 at Lents Commons Coffeehouse at 92nd/Foster. We'll discuss the Friends of Lents Park final position on a few undecided elements of the Lents Park Master Plan.

If you can't make the meeting, you can email FLP's PAC representative, Kathleen, at lentspark@gmail.com to ask questions or express your opinion.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Deadline Nov. 22 for new round of public comment!

The Lents Park Master Plan is in the final round of public involvement. Deadline is Monday, November 22 at 5:00 p.m. This is it! This is your final chance to have input into the redesign of the park before the Project Advisory Committee votes on a final map.

Once the PAC adops a final map and Master Plan, the plan will go to the Parks Director and Commissioner Fish, and from there to the City Council. While you will be able to share your opinions with all of these folks, you will not get another chance to have direct input on the details of the map. Don't miss this deadline!

Visit the Portland Parks website to view the map and fill out the comment form online.

You can also view paper maps and fill out a hard copy comment form at the Lents Commons Coffeehouse, SE 92nd and Foster, open Mon-Fri 6:30 am to 7 pm and Sat-Sun from 8 am to 7 pm. Parks staff will be at Lents Commons Saturday, November 20 from 9to 11 am to answer questions in person.

The remainder of this post is a "voters guide" prepared by Kathleen Juergens de Ponce, Steering Committee member for Friends of Lents Park, who is also FLP's representative to the Master Plan Project Advisory Committee. Kathleen has done her best to give you an overview of your options, without telling you how to vote. However, you should keep in mind that all of this represents one person's analysis. Keep an open mind, and decide for yourself!

So what will you be looking at, when you view the latest round of maps? First of all, you can forget all about most of what you saw on maps A, B and C from the last round. The proposals that were decisively rejected by the community in the last round (moving the gazebo down into a corner, moving the community garden up onto a hill, cutting lots of trees, eliminating tennis) have been removed from the maps. YOUR comments have been listened to and have made a difference!

This time around you will be looking at two maps, dubbed Alternatives A and B. If you picture the park as being divided into three sections, the north and south sections are the same in both maps. Only the central section is different.

Last time around, we had to respond to a lot of ideas that were generated by an outside consultant, some of which the City admitted were thrown at us just to see how we'd react. This time around, you will be seeing ideas that may be new to you, including ideas that were not included in the last round of maps. The difference is that this time the new ideas were generated by people from THIS community: your neighbors, friends, local representatives, including other FLP members. If the public involvement process had been structured differently, you would have seen these ideas sooner. But better late than never!

This time you also have the benefit of being able to hear what your neighbors had to say about some of these ideas, before you have to weigh in yourself. Three "listening sessions" were held the week of October 25. If you were not able to attend, please see the following posts for my notes on what was discussed. Again, it would have been a whole lot better to have these discussions happen 6 months ago, but we do not have the luxury of undoing the past. Let's make the best of what we have, and make sure your voice is included!

The following analysis makes reference to the results from the last round of public comment. The City has finally posted these results in a publicly available format. Check out this link to see what your neighbors said.

North third of the park:

Both maps are the same for this section, and almost all of what you see is the result of what the public said they wanted. The public overwhelmingly supported keeping Vavrek Field (the north side football/soccer field) where it is. There was clear majority support for improving Walker Stadium and converting to synthetic turf to make it multi-use. The adult basketball court is moved to north of the parking lot, which was the most preferred location. (Moving the basketball court makes possible the development of the natural area along the park's east side, which was also favored by the public.)

None of these decisions are likely to be revisited by the PAC, since they were the result of clear direction from the public.

The Lents Little League facilities are left alone, which was a condition of this Master Plan from the beginning. (The PDC just spent millions to relocate these facilities, so it would not make much sense to undo this decision.)

The most controversial aspect of this north section is the skate spot, which is shown on both maps along Holgate, next to Lents Little League. This was the most preferred of the three locations that were shown on the last round of maps....but it wasn't preferred by very much. There is no clear community consensus in favor of this location. Some concerns expressed are how close this location is to houses, and fly balls from the little league.

The listening session on "Active Recreation," held October 25, was the first chance the public really got to weigh in on where the skate park might be located. Three alternate locations were suggested. Check out my notes from this session (see following posts) and see what you think. If you favor one of these alternate locations, say so on your comment form!

South third of the park:

This section is also the same in both maps. Again, most of what you see is based on results from the last round of public comment. Clear majorities supported keeping the dog park where it is, expanding the community garden and adding a shelter (but without destroying the heritage chestnut tree!), keeping the tennis court and children's play areas where they are but with improvements, adding a spray feature to replace the wading pool, and adding a natural planting area along SE 92nd Avenue.

The Project Advisory Committee discussed the dog park at our last meeting and voted to add a water hookup and a bench. (Normally these are “details” that would not go into a master plan, but dog park users have been promised these improvements for a long time.) Left unresolved was the question of fencing. There are strong pros and cons for both fenced and unfenced dog parks, and the public has not yet been asked which they prefer. The PAC is leaning towards a series of partial barriers, while the discussion at the Oct. 28 listening session favored a partial fence. Check out my notes, and indicate on your comment form which you prefer!

In the last round of maps, the public was given the choice as to which corner of the park would be best for a “grand entrance.” The public favored the SE corner, but the question was not specific as to what a “grand entrance” might look like. This round of maps shows the “grand entrance” as involving lawns and garden in the SE bowl area, leading to a staircase up the hill, which leads to the natural area along 92nd. Not everybody is thrilled with the idea of a staircase, and some people have other ideas as to how that SE bowl area might be used. Check out the comments from the listening sessions, and say what you think!

Central section of the park:

This round of maps shows two alternatives for the park's central section.

ALTERNATIVE A: This alternative reduces the soccer fields to one, allowing for the space from the other field to be re-programmed for natural garden-type plantings. This is an idea which has been extensively discussed in the community over the past few months and has rapidly gained popularity, including with many FLP members. Many community members would like to see the central area of the park be less sports-dominated and more conducive to passive recreation. If the public involvement process had been differently structured, there would have been time for much more in-depth discussion and evaluation of this idea at an earlier stage, but we need to make the best of how things are.

The Park Director and Commissioner have set a condition on the Master Plan process that there must not be any net reduction of playable field hours. (Some of us, including me, support this condition, while others think it is unfair; regardless, this is the situation we have to work with.) In order to comply with this condition while still reducing the number of soccer fields to one, it will be necessary for the remaining field to convert to synthetic turf. This is because of the “down time” required by natural grass fields, while synthetic fields can take many more hours of use.

So in this scenario, in order for the public to get something that many people have said they want (more gardens and natural plantings) it will be necessary to accept something that the majority has said they don't want (synthetic turf on a central park field). This is a tough call. Your neighbors have had thoughtful things to say at all three listening sessions, so check out their comments and then make up your own mind.

The PAC has also voted to reorient the synthetic field northward, in order to provide for the largest possible continuous swath of natural plantings. This would require moving the gazebo, an idea which has not proven popular in the listening sessions.

Reorientation of the field would require removal of approximately 6 trees, but the increased plantings in this scenario might include as many as 60 (!) new trees. Some folks are thrilled with this, while others do not necessarily think more is better. What is going to happen to natural light and open space under this scenario? Where will people sit when the park holds concerts? Check out your neighbors' comments, and let us know what you think.

ALTERNATIVE B: This scenario keeps the park much closer to how it is now. The gazebo stays in its current location. A new picnic shelter and additional pathways are added, both of which the public favored in the last round of comments. The only change to the soccer fields is that one would stay a permitted field, while the other would become an open space available to the community (and would likely be used for soccer and other pickup games). Every few years the fields would “flip” to give the permitted field a chance to recover. This scenario for the soccer fields was the most favored option from the last round of public comment.

City's comment form:

Over my objections, the City has chosen to use a comment form that gives the public almost no options for weighing in on specific park features. Check out the comment form here.

People are asked to choose Alternative A or B for the central fields, say why, and then comment on a range of guiding principles. Although the form does not say so, the City has clarified that you are supposed to evaluate how well the alternative you favor embodies these principles. I.e., if you chose Alternative A, you are saying how well Alternative A “provides a variety of active and passive recreational opportunities”.....etc.

Does this sound confusing? Yeah. You are not given any boxes to check that ask you what you think about the different elements of the central fields scenario (reorienting the field, synthetic turf, moving the gazebo, increased plantings, 60 new trees, etc.) You are not asked what you think about the “grand entrance,” which is a new design element. You are not asked whether you favor fencing the dog park, a question that the PAC specific voted to refer to the public. You are not asked anything at all about the skate spot, a matter on which the City knows there is substantial concern.

As regards Alternative A vs. B, you are only given the choice between these two alternatives, with no defined option for anything in between.

Fortunately, our members are not known for allowing our options to be so easily limited. Write it in anyway! Use the lines at the end of the form to let the City know just what you think about the new elements of these maps. If you wholeheartedly favor either Alternative A or B, by all means say so, but if you favor some combination of elements or something in between, let them know!

The most important thing people should understand about this form is that just saying “none of the above” is not going to be a helpful answer, unless you give detailed feedback about what you'd like to see instead. This is the next-to-final map. At the PAC's next meeting, we are expected to vote to adopt the final map. There is no time to go back to the drawing board.

Your comments have already had a huge impact. We have already saved the park's trees and prevented some of the worst ideas from going forward. We have demanded - and gotten - a chance to have more meaningful discussions about the park's future. Your park needs one more effort from you to bring this process to a good conclusion. As always, thank you so much for your engagement on behalf of your park.

Kathleen Juergens de Ponce

P.S. If you would like to see a vision of the park that is dramatically different from the current maps, visit Facebook and search “Lents Park Non-A, B, C Master Plan.” This map was produced by Lents Creative, one of the stakeholder groups in our neighborhood. Whether or not you share this vision, it may spark some great ideas for your own comments.

"Sustainability" Listening Session, Oct. 30

These are Kathleen's personal notes. I have tried to group similar topics together, but otherwise have followed the order in which the conversation happened.

I came in late to this session, so these notes may not be complete.

Two members of the Project Advisory Committee were present. We started off with 6 members of the public, but another 5 came in towards the end and participated actively. Besides Elizabeth and Sarah from Parks, and Bob from Central Services, we were joined by Leslie from the City's Community Garden program.

Community Garden

According to Leslie from the City, there is a waiting list for the Community Garden. This has been a bad gardening year, and there have been some drop-outs. (This may explain people's perception that there are actually lots of spaces available.)

When the community garden folks requested an expansion to the garden, they had envisioned this happening to the west side, not to the east. (Both maps currently show expansion to the east.) To the east you run into trees, and it's hard to grow under trees.

Some support was expressed for expanding the community garden to the west. Of course, this runs into the Dog Off-leash Area (DOLA). Maybe the garden could be "squeezed down" to make up for loss to the DOLA. We could also reconfigure so that the proposed new shelter for the garden also serves the DOLA. (Currently it is shown inside the garden's fence and would not serve both.)

Dog park hill is an important location for sledding when it snows.

Trees, Habitat, Pollinators

Trees are important for air quality mitigation plus a sound barrier from the freeway.

City Bureau of Environmental Services prefers map A for habitat issues, because of the additional trees. Birds will go back and forth between Lents & Bloomington Park.

BES wants to encourage moth-type pollinators. Bees are an issue for some path users because of bee sting allergies.

City wants to look into perennials and native plants that aren't such high maintenance. At Gabriel Park there is a perennial pollinator "mound" that has been successful so far.

Could there be volunteer maintenance? City currently has a "pesticide free parks" program that relies on volunteers.

Orchards work best as part of a community garden. If fallen fruit doesn't get picked up right away, it attracts yellow jackets. Could we maybe have nut trees instead of fruit? Leslie says there has been a lot of loss of nut trees in private yards recently, because they take up space.

One participant (FLP member Debbie) pointed out a tree to west of Community Garden. This was planted in memory of her late mother. Leslie says comm. gardens in various park contain memorial trees.

Open Space

Map A would add approximately 60 new trees (although this is not an exact number - details would be filled in at the schematic stage). One participant says "the more trees the better!" But overall, the majority of participants were concerned about the loss of open space that this would involve. This neighborhood loves its trees, but perhaps we don't need THIS many new ones. One participant said we do not want the park to become so full that we lose natural light. Another participant (with a nursery background) said 60 new trees is very ambitious, and we need to think of maintenance cost.

From a maintenance perspective, open swaths are easier to mow. New trees should be grouped into "groves."

Swales and Stormwater

There was a lot of discussion of how to better direct stormwater. Swales are old technology at this point. There is a lot of exciting stuff being done with permeable barriers.

One participant would have liked the proposal to terrace the community garden because of drainage issues. Regardless, the final plan will have better drainage for that hill in the SE corner. Drainage will be looked at in the schematic stage, along with details like lighting, benches, water fountains, etc.


New restrooms are great, but will they ever be open? This will depend on maintenance budget. But new, more open-style restrooms are expected to be less prone to vandalism which leads to closing.

The plan is to get rid of the port-a-potties that are now in the park. One participant said port-a-potties are not sustainable, since they require servicing by truck.

Maintenance Costs

While not formally part of this discussion, some important information was shared.

The City estimates approximately $6 million for development of the entire Master Plan, which includes approx. $800,000 for the synthetic field. There is currently no money in the budget for any of this; it would have to come from future bond issues. But without a Master Plan in place, we cannot get in line for any funds that may become available in the future.

Both maps A and B would be more expensive to maintain than what we have in the park now, because of the additional pathways. The synthetic turf needs much less maintenance than grass (would wash out over the lifetime of the field, when you factor in how much it costs to install).

The water for the proposed new spray feature would potentially be a high cost. (Spray feature has been popular among all respondents, and would replace the wading pool that has had to be eliminated due to new state law.)

As park improvements go, this Master Plan would not be TOO expensive, because there is not a lot of paving or new structures.


One participant described the SE bowl area currently as "wasted space." There is nothing going on there, no beauty.

"Community Spaces" Listening Session, Oct. 28

These are Kathleen's personal notes. I've tried to group similar topics together, but otherwise have followed the order in which the conversation happened.

Four members of the Project Advisory Committee were present, along with 9 members of the public. We were joined by Allie, the manager for the City's dog off-leash program, and Bob Downing, central services manager for the parks (he was at all of the sessions, along with Elizabeth and Sarah from Parks).

Dog Off-Leash Area (DOLA)

Some feeling that the dog park isn't big enough to accommodate training of dogs.

Proposed expansion of the community garden to the east doesn't affect the dog park. BUT, the east side is where the DOLA boundary is not clear. East side of the community garden is often thought to be, or used as, part of the dog park.

Why can't the DOLA have a bags dispenser for doggie waste? There was a lot of discussion - people want this. This is a budgeting issue. To provide this for the entire parks system would be $100,000 a year. People bring "bags of bags" (reused grocery, newspaper, etc. bags) but this is a problem, because they come loose, blow around and turn into trash. Maybe there could be a better "stash spot" for the bags of bags.

"Doggie septic tank" was brought up as an idea. There are issues of technical feasibility with this.

Dogs run across 88th Ave. This is especially an issue with 88th slated to become a "bike boulevard."

Regarding fencing, participants in this discussion liked best the idea of a partial fence, along the streets only. One participant suggested a 20-foot "hook" inward from the street.


Again, it was hard to keep this conversation completely separate from the question of what we do with the soccer fields, but we tried to focus on the "community space" aspect of the question.

Overall, participants expressed strong concerns with moving the gazebo. Current location is close to parking and to proposed new restrooms and picnic area. Proposed new location in map A is less convenient. With new location, there is concern that noise will come "down the hill" to residences to the south of the park (although band shell may mitigate this). Wheelchair access will be better in current location. New location will be worse for sun in the eyes of audience.

Majority of participants rejected the idea that "we will move the gazebo, but keep it as close to parking, restrooms, etc. as possible," which was proposed as a compromise position. They did not favor moving the gazebo at all. One participant said moving the gazebo would "just be a waste."

There were also some concerns about how the scenario in map A will accommodate concerts. The symphony uses soccer fields. How would it work for them to play on the synthetic field? You wouldn't be able to bring food. One participant said, "synthetic fields are for sports, not for the people."

The conversation about the gazebo repeatedly veered into areas that have more to do with park management than design. Noise control in the park is a huge issue for neighbors, especially on the quieter 88th Avenue side. One neighbor described some noise levels as "unbearable." One neighbor sometimes hears events in the park from his house on 86th Ave. People at the bottom of the park say they hear "everything." The Revolution Church event over Labor Day is hugely unpopular - people do not like sitting in their homes and hearing they are going to go to hell. People understood (reluctantly, after much debate) that the City cannot discriminate against park users based on content.

Trying to report noise violations means you get the runaround. Portland Parks & Rec issues permits, but BDS enforces noise violations. There is only one noise control officer for the entire city. Try to report a violation, and each bureau refers you to the other. (Perhaps there are some ideas here for future areas of organization and advocacy for Friends of Lents Park.)

Participants were generally open to the idea of improvements to the gazebo that might result in better noise control. Maybe there could also be rule changes that put limits on amplified music, not eliminate it entirely.

"Grand Entrance"

A few long-term residents weighed in on the idea to put in a grand staircase at the SE corner. There were stairs before, by the tennis courts. They were taken out because there were too many problems. Bikers and skaters used the stairs for tricks, grinding, etc.

Keep the evergreen trees at the SE corner.

Some participants did not like the choice of the SE corner for the "grand entrance." (This was the location favored by respondents to the previous round of public involvement.) Some think the Holgate side is a more natural choice. One participant asked, so is this a done deal because of the previous responses? (Probably, but say what you think on your comment form! If the PAC gets overwhelming input to revisit this decision, it may happen.)

Kids' Play Area

Some participants favored putting the covered picnic area next to the play area, for birthday parties.

Participants were generally OK with the idea of a kids' basketball court going in next to the play area.

One participant said speed limits should be lowered around the park because of children playing. While this is outside the scope of this master plan, it has been done before, for example, in Spokane. The state controls speed limits, so you can write your legislator. There are other people in the neighborhood concerned about this issue - check out the "i love lents" listserve on Yahoogroups.

Synthetic Turf for Fields

While not formally part of the agenda for this discussion, the subject of the synthetic fields came up and some important information was shared.

Cost to put in a synthetic field is around $800,000. Yearly maintenance costs then go down to almost nothing, because synthetic turf doesn't need much maintenance. Maintenance fees for grass fields: at Delta park (high-intensity use) can run about $25,000 a year; here in Lents Park it runs around $7,000 a year. Over the long run (according to Bob Downing) synthetic fields are cheaper.

One participant asked why the City can afford $800,000 for a synthetic field, but can't afford a bag dispenser for the dog park.

One participant said his sons had played on synthetic turf and didn't like the feel of it. Playground improvements are more important than the money it would take to put in a synthetic field.

It was acknowledged that synthetic materials have improved a lot over the past few years and are now much more "natural" feeling.


One participant with 51 years in the neighborhood and multiple past service on committees said that this master plan is "the first positive thing the CIty has ever done for Lents Park." There are lots of promises, but the City never follows through.

"Active Recreation" Listening Session, Oct. 25

These are Kathleen's personal notes. I have tried to group similar topics together, but otherwise have followed the order in which the conversation happened.

The topic of this listening session was "Active Recreation," which included the soccer fields, Walker Stadium, the football field, and the proposed new skate park.

About half the Project Advisory Committee was present, and a total of 21 members of the public participated at various times. The public participation was pretty evenly divided between "sports" people and "neighborhood" people, and included representatives of virtually all the different "sports" constituencies that use the park. There was a representative from the baseball players who use Walker Stadium, from the Spanish-speaking soccer players who use the central fields, and from Lents Little League. There were also several local skaters who had a background in skate park design.

More sports in the park?

Neighbors present talked about their desire for the park not to be turned into a "sports complex." This was an interesting perception, since the skate park is the only new sports feature proposed to be added. Neither of the maps currently under consideration would add MORE soccer, football or baseball, and both would restrict some areas available for pickup sports such as volleyball.

So we talked some about the perception that the park is being targeted for lots more sports to be added. This is coming primarily from the proposal to go to synthetic turf in Walker Stadium and for one soccer field in Map A. Neighbors pointed out that synthetic turf means fewer rainouts, which means more games actually get played, even if the scheduling is the same on paper. Synthetic fields are also lighted, which means play can continue until later in the night. Restricting permitted hours could help. Walker Stadium is currently permitted until 11 pm. The synthetic central field could be restricted to 10 pm.


One of the biggest issues for neighbors with sports in the park was associated parking impacts. One neighbor said that moving Lents Little League to the park had really affected parking on the west side. Some ideas were shared to get sports participants to take transit instead of drive. Maybe offer some incentives for coming on MAX? This is more feasible for soccer than baseball, where people are hauling a lot of gear.

One participant had an idea to increase parking: along the SW side of the park, take out the concrete barrier and convert parallel parking spots to angle parking.

Another participant suggested turning the north side football field into a parking lot. (OK, that one's unlikely to fly, but we were brainstorming!)

"Skate spot"

A lot of the discussion about the skate spot centered on its location. Much of the concerns about liveability involve how close the skate spot would be to residences.

In both maps, the skate spot would be located along Holgate, next to the northmost of the Lents Little League fields. From the last round of public comment, this was the location that was most favored by respondents out of the choices given, all of which were on the park's outer edge. But this location wasn't favored by a huge margin, indicating there is no clear neighborhood consensus in favor of this spot.

Some said the Holgate location would be best, because Holgate street is already loud. Others pointed out the danger of fly balls going into the skate spot.

Other possible location discussed for the skate spot. (Note, none of these were on the previous maps, so weren't included in the previous round of public comments. If you like these ideas, say so on your comment form!)

* In the SE bowl area, next to the playground.

* On map "A," to the immediate right of the synthetic soccer field, curving around existing trees.

* In the concrete area between the south edge of Walker Stadium and the jogging path (might require removal of 2 or 3 trees to be feasible)

Generally, the idea of moving the skate spot more towards the middle of the park was popular. But there are safety concerns with this. A more central location is harder to monitor and may be more likely to be used inappropriately.

The participants who have experience designing and building skate parks had some interesting perspectives to add. According to them, it is quite feasible to design a skate park around existing trees. The skate spot should be designed and constructed properly, or it won't get used. Good design will do a lot to minimize other uses the neighborhood might not want. A lot can be done to mitigate sound. Trees help. Concrete is the best material for mitigating sound - wood is much louder. They recommend covering the skate spot because of rain, but this would be a budgetary consideration.

Soccer fields

The treatment of the central soccer fields is the big difference between maps A and B. For purposes of this conversation, we tried to focus just on the "sports" aspects of this issue, although other matters are inextricably linked, such as location of the gazebo.

Overall, the idea of re-programming one central field from soccer to natural plantings (as shown in map A) was very popular. A majority of participants, including the soccer player representative, really liked this idea.

It was pointed out that map B doesn't really cut down to one soccer field. The open space that is available "first come first served" will probably also get used for soccer.

The soccer and baseball representatives don't like synthetic turf a whole lot for playing on, but didn't argue strongly against it.

There was some support for the idea of exploring if soccer can be moved from the park to the fields at the former Marshall High School. Portland Parks doesn't control this site, and this master plan can't mandate this change.

Another idea was whether soccer can be played on the outfields of the baseball fields. (I think the reference here was to the Lents Little League fields.)

There was clarification as to when soccer gets played. Primary season is August through November, which overlaps with baseball season. All grass fields are closed down December, January and beginning of February. In late February we have lacrosse and rugby, then the soccer secondary season starts around April.

Other sports issues

With the basketball court being moved in both maps, some are concerned there is not enough capacity for volleyball.

The plans to improve Walker Stadium are already done. Once a master plan map is finalized, the Project Advisory Committee will prioritize how the work gets done.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Listening Sessions coming up week of Oct. 25!

Many exciting events are coming up in the Master Planning process for Lents Park. The week of October 25 the City will be holding Listening Sessions to give neighbors a chance to talk with each other and exchange ideas about what we want for the future of our park. These sessions are in part a response to concerns expressed by our group that the public involvement process has not been open enough, so we are pleased that they are taking place.

All Listening Sessions will take place at the Lents Commons coffeehouse, which is located at the corner of SE 92nd Avenue and Foster.

The first Listening Session will be held Monday, October 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. The topic will be “Active Recreation,” which includes soccer and football fields, the proposed new skate park and Walker Stadium.

The second Listening Session will be held Thursday, October 28, from 6 to 8 pm. The topic will be “Community Spaces,” which includes the gazebo and performance spaces, the dog park, children's playgrounds, and connections to light rail and Lents Town Center.

The third Listening Session will be held Saturday, October 30 from 9 to 11 am. The topic will be “Sustainability,” which includes community garden, natural areas and botanical plantings, and trees.

The following week after the Listening Sessions, there will be another Open House to present the Preferred Design map, although the map is already finished and will be available at the Listening Sessions as well. The Open House will take place Monday, November 1, from 6 to 8 pm, at the Pantheon Banquet Hall, 5942 SE 92nd Avenue.

Public comment on the Preferred Design map will start with the November 1 Open House and remain open until November 22. To make your comment, you can attend the Open House to get a map and comment form. You can also make your comments at any point between November 2 and 22 by going to the Lents Commons coffeehouse at SE 92nd and Foster during business hours, or online by going to www.portlandparks.org.

If you can't make it to the Open House, but have questions on the map that you would like to ask a live person, project staff and/or members of the City's Project Advisory Committee will be at Lents Commons on Saturday, November 6 from 9 to 11 am, and on Saturday November 20 from 9 to 11 am.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Emergency PAC meeting TONIGHT Tues. 10/19

We now (on less than 24 hours notice) have a location for tonight's emergency meeting of the Lents Park Master Plan Project Advisory Committee (PAC).

Tuesday, October 19
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
East Portland Community Center
740 SE 106th Avenue
Classroom 1

PAC meeting are open to the public and include opportunities for public input. Tonight's meeting is for the PAC to finish deliberations and adopt a Preferred Design map to be released to the public for the next stage of public comment. Part of the meeting will also be dedicated to a technical consultation between the PAC and Portland Parks staff regarding the proposal to re-purpose at least one soccer field as gardens and pathways.

As Friends of Lents Park's representative to the PAC, I am concerned about the current state of the process, which doesn't seem workable or democratic. Below is the text of an e-mail I have sent to the PAC and City staff as of this morning.

Kathleen Juergens de Ponce


I think the process is in trouble.

Even if we get a quorum of the PAC for tonight's emergency meeting (on less than 24 hours notice of the location), and even if we reach consensus on a map within the hour allotted, we are left with two problems.

(1) Under the working schedule, we are supposed to be finalizing the comment form by tomorrow, and we haven't even started. I suppose we could get this done by Friday...if the committee has time for another crazy hurry-up task. Do we?

(2) No flyer has been produced for the Listening Sessions, which are supposed to start in less than a week. To my knowledge, no publicity at all has gone out, other than the e-mails I've sent to my own group. Even if we get right to work on this (while working on the comment form?), I don't see many people being able to do flyer distribution until this weekend, which is only 1-2 days notice. This feels like a setup for failure.

I ask again, as my group has asked before, where's the fire? What's the rush? This is supposed to be a plan for the next 25 years. Let's prioritize doing it right over doing it fast.

Part of the problem I see is that the committee is supposed to be adopting a Preferred Design map, but that's not really what we're doing. Instead, we are continuing to generate and kick around new ideas (including ideas that have never previously been discussed in the neighborhood, such as moving the gazebo to the park's west edge). New ideas are great and need to be discussed! But why are we putting them in a map called "Preferred Design," when we have previously promised the public that this map will be a consolidation of THEIR public input?

Given where we're at, the process could move forward better like this:

* Have tonight's meeting go forward as a technical consultation with the parks people over the sports fields, which needs to happen anyway. Spend the rest of it having the PAC adopt a workable schedule for the rest of the process that we all take ownership and responsibility for, including fleshing out how the Listening Sessions will work.

* Do the Listening Sessions as a stand-alone part of the process, so that we can get direction from the public about the new ideas that are continuing to be generated. Postpone them a bit further, as needed to make sure that we have meaningful outreach.

* The PAC then meets to finish our deliberations over the Preferred Design map, which should be much easier at that point. We begin work by e-mail on the comment form.

* We then hold an open house to present the map, and open public comment for three weeks.

* PAC then meets to finalize the master plan, and it goes forward to adoption.

If people don't like these suggestions, then I'd like to see other ideas for how the procedural snarls outlined above can be resolved.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Draft map taken down

The draft preferred concept map, which was was available on this blog until earlier today, has been removed at the request of the parks department. The parks department reps preferred to keep the draft under wraps except for PAC members. FLP disagrees, but complied with the request. Come to the PAC meeting Wednesday October 13, 6 pm, at Marshall High School, Room C44, to see the map and attend the meeting about it.

So how do you like the process?

Back in September the Friends of Lents Park released a letter expressing serious concerns with the public involvement process for the Lents Park Master Plan (see previous posts). We called for the process to be slowed down and opened up to better reflect the community.

We were listened to! But have we gotten everything we need to have full confidence in this process? Our members will need to be the judge.

As detailed in previous posts, a delegation from the Steering Committee met with Parks Department staff and staff from Commissioner Fish's office. Out of this meeting, and the informal Project Advisory Committee meeting that followed, came a proposal for an expanded public involvement process. How this process will work has been further clarified by recent communications from the Parks Department. It will go something like this:

* The Project Advisory Committee (PAC) adopts a "preferred design" map, incorporating public input from the three previous concept maps. This is proposed to take place at the PAC meeting, Wednesday, October 13, 6 - 9 pm, at Marshall High School. This meeting is open to the public, so you can have input into this decision! (See the post immediately prior to this for meeting details.)

* The City, with input from the PAC, develops a comment form for the preferred design map, to be finalized by October 20.

* Three "listening sessions" will be held the week of October 25, for open-ended public discussion of what we want for our park. Proposed schedule is:
October 25 - Active Recreation, 6-8 pm, Lents Commons
October 27 - Community Spaces, 6-8 pm, Lents Commons
October 30 - Sustainability, 9-11 am, Lents Commons

We understand that the preferred design map will be available for review at the listening sessions, but formal public comment will not yet have opened.

* An Open House will then be held Monday, November 1, 5-8 pm (place TBD) to present the preferred design map. Public comment will open at this time, and will remain open until November 22.

* The Project Advisory Committee will meet again to review public comment on the preferred design map and adopt a final Master Plan to be forwarded to City Council.

The Steering Committee felt very positive about the idea for the Listening Sessions, and at a September 30 meeting of the Friends of Lents Park, the members agreed. However, the concern remains: how is the input from the Listening Sessions going to be translated into the final Master Plan? FLP has asked for the City and its contractor to hold off on generating any new maps until after the Listening Sessions happen. Instead, the City proposes to go ahead and generate the "preferred design" map now, along with the comment form that goes with it. It looks like the PAC will vote October 13 to go ahead with this (remember, that's the meeting you get to go to and have input). It would then fall to the PAC to find a way to incorporate what they hear at the Listening Sessions into the map and comment form that have already been written.

So how do we feel about this? Come to the October 13 PAC meeting and make your voice heard! If you can't make it to this meeting but have input you would like the PAC to consider, please contact the Friends of Lents Park representative to the PAC, Kathleen Juergens de Ponce, lentspark@gmail.com, or 503-331-0326.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Come to PAC meeting Oct 13!

The next meeting of the Project Advisory Committee (PAC) for the Lents Park Master Plan will be this coming Wednesday. PAC meetings are open to the public and will include opportunity for public comment. Details are as follows:

Lents Park Master Plan
Project Advisory Committee Meeting #4
Marshall High School, 3905 SE 91st Ave
Room C44
October 13, 2010 – 6:00 to 9:00 pm

The PAC will be considering a DRAFT "preferred design" map for the park. This design is intended to incorporate the public comment given on the three concept alternative maps, and consolidate the public's preferences into one map. How good a job did the City's contractor do with this? Come to the meeting, and you tell us!

The agenda for this meeting calls for the PAC to adopt a finalized "preferred design" map by the end of this meeting. This will NOT be the final Master Plan map for the park. Rather, the preferred design map will be the new map that goes out to the public for comment. There will be another comment form, another round of public comment, and at least one more PAC meeting, before anything gets finalized and sent to City Council.

The draft preferred design map is not available for distribution to the public at this time, but the following are some links to the meeting agenda and other meeting materials:

Here is a brief summary of the thinking that went in to whether and how to include specific features in the Draft Preferred Design.

Lents Park Master Plan: Draft Preferred Design – Rationale by feature.doc

Here is the Summary of the Comment surveys that helped shape the thinking about the reshaping of the Master Plan
Lents Comment Summary.doc

Here is the formal meeting agenda
Lents Park Agenda.doc

Here is a link to the Portland Parks and Recreation outline of the Public Input Process
Public Input Process.doc

We hope to see you all there! The PAC is the citizen committee representing the community in this process, and this is your chance to let them know what you think!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So what is the Project Advisory Committee?

The Lents Park Master Plan process is being overseen by a citizen committee called the Project Advisory Committee (PAC). Some committee members represent community groups with an interest in the process, while others represent the community at large. FLP's representative to the PAC is Kathleen Juergens de Ponce, an original founding member of FLP and current Steering Committee member.

The PAC will ultimately vote on the final Master Plan before it goes to City Council for approval. So get to know the PAC - they represent you in this process!

PAC meetings are open to the public, and we encourage interested FLP members to attend. The next one will be Wednesday, October 13, 6:00 p.m., location TBD.

PAC roster and meeting schedule can be found on the
City's project page for the Lents Park Master Plan. (This site is worth checking out in any case, since it contains a lot of useful information and background documents.)

Next FLP Meeting Thursday September 30

Next Friends of Lents Park meeting will be:

Thursday, September 30
6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Lents Commons Coffeehouse
SE 92nd Avenue & Foster

This will be a short meeting to check back in with our membership and discuss next steps. How are you feeling about the new public involvement process that has been proposed in response to FLP's concerns? What can you help do to make sure the community's voice is heard in this next round?

The Lents Commons closes at 7:00, so we will try to keep things brief. This new local business has been GREAT about hosting Master Plan-related events, so please consider supporting them with your business.

We had originally asked people to save this date for a possible meeting between the group and Commissioner Fish. It now looks like it will take quite a bit longer to get on the Commissioner's schedule. We'd like feedback from our members as to whether this is still worth doing, given the expanded array of new meetings that has now been announced.

Expanded Process would add "Listening Sessions"

Prior to FLP issuing its letter on the Master Plan process, the next round of public involvement was going to look something like this:

Comment period closes on the concept maps. Comments are tabulated and analyzed. The City's contractor, Walker Macy, then gets to work consolidating the three concept maps into one "preferred concept." There is another open house where the preferred concept map is presented, then public comment opens again, prior to the map and Master Plan being finalized.

The FLP Steering Committee called for this process to be put on hold, based on the input we got from virtually all members we talked to. People's outrage at what they were seeing in the concept maps, and lack of confidence that the City was listening, caused us to conclude that it would be premature to proceed to the "preferred concept" stage. We called for another round of public involvement that would be more open-ended, that would engage the community in dialog about what we DO want for our park, instead of reacting to yet another map, which we feared would be full of yet another round of things we didn't want. We also worried that some of the community's good ideas that never got included in the concept maps in the first place might slip through the cracks without a chance to be considered.

We have been listened to!

Barely a week after our letter was sent, and a couple of days after FLP's delegation met with Commissioner Fish's staff, the Parks Department has announced a new, expanded public involvement process for the next stage of the plan. It's going to look like this:

Comment forms on the concept maps will be tabulated and analyzed (they're almost done with this), then summarized for the Project Advisory Committee.

The week of October 25, there will be three "Listening Sessions"
October 25: Sustainability
October 26: Active Recreation
October 27: Community Spaces

The preferred concept map will then be presented at an Open House to be held November 1, with a comment period open until November 22.

(Times and places for meetings are still to be determined. Dates may also be subject to change, based on input from Project Advisory Committee.)

So how is this better? Well, before we are faced with another map, we will have a chance to come together as a community and have open-ended conversations about what we want for our park and what changes we might be willing to accept. We will have the chance to hear the ideas of other community members and discuss them among ourselves before we have to respond to them on a form.

These events will be called "Listening Sessions" because the Parks Department, and the Project Advisory Committee for this Master Plan, will be there to listen to what the community has to say.

Topics for the three Listening Sessions will break down as follows:

* "Sustainability" includes community gardens, natural areas/native plantings, and trees.

* "Community Spaces" includes the dog area, paths, internal and external connections (to transit and Lents Town Center), playground/spray play, picnic area, entrance, and performance space/gazebo.

* "Active Recreation" includes Walker Stadium, sports fields, ball fields, tennis, basketball and the "skatespot."

Downside to this expanded process is that there are now more meetings for concerned citizens to attend. But this does not have to be a bad thing. Most of us have one area or activity in the park that interests us most. Make that the session you attend!

The FLP delegation that met with the City is feeling very optimistic that this expanded process will lead to a better result not just for our group, but for the entire community. Yes, we would have preferred the City to do this listening process at the front end, but better late than never.

We would like to know what our members think. Do you feel your concerns are being addressed? Do you feel any greater confidence in the Master Planning process? We would especially like input into the possibility of a meeting between our members and Commissioner Fish himself. Is this something you would like to see happen, or would this just be one more meeting?

So give us your feedback. Come to our next meeting (Thursday, September 30, 6:00 p.m. at the Lents Commons Coffeehouse, SE 92nd and Foster). Post a comment to this blog, e-mail us at lentspark@gmail.com or call 503-331-0326.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Almost Final" Results from Concept Map Comments

Thank you to everybody who put the time in to fill out the lengthy and complex comment form on the three "concept maps" in the Lents Park Master Plan process. We know this wasn't easy, but it had to be done! As of the September 15 deadline, a whopping 330 responses had been received. This is a very impressive response rate (other Portland parks going through similar processes have had responses in the low dozens) and speaks powerfully to the love this community has for our park.

We are still waiting for the Parks Department to complete analysis of these comments and release a final report to the public, but members of the Project Advisory Committee have been able to see "almost final" results. Some highlights are as follows.

I have deliberately held off giving firm numbers or percentages on any of these items, since these are preliminary numbers. Be aware that these numbers are subject to correction, and watch for that final report!

* Respondents overwhelmingly have said: Keep the trees! People voting to "preserve as many existing trees as possible" outnumbered people voting "OK to cut if replacement trees are planted" more than two to one.

* Respondents overall favor keeping the park largely the way it is. Of people voting for one of the three concepts, the overwhelming winner was Concept A, getting more votes than B and C put together. The most common remark made for favoring A was that it makes the fewest changes. The number of people voting "none of the above" was larger than the vote for B or C, and almost as large as the vote for A. Again, many comments under this item state that people like the park the way it is.

* Respondents seem to like the "Skatespot," with all three proposed locations getting more "like" than "dislike" votes. (For those of you who have liveability concerns about the skatespot, this issue is far from over. Stay engaged in the process, and there will be future opportunities to talk about this!)

* Respondents favor keeping the dog park where it is, with many comments calling for it to be fenced in its current location.

* Natural/botanical plantings were popular, getting twice as many "like" as "dislike" votes in all three areas they were proposed. (Combine this with the vote on keeping the trees, and it is clear that people are envisioning plantings that are compatible with the existing tree canopy.)

* Respondents overwhelmingly favor keeping the children's playground where it is.

* Respondents favor making Walker Stadium multi-use over keeping it the way it is.

* For the central fields, the most popular proposal was the one in Concept B, which keeps both fields as natural grass and "flips" which field will be permitted. (Combine this with other answers, and it's clear that people did NOT like the proposed reorientation of the fields in this concept, which would have sacrificed multiple trees in order to provide for a direct north-south pathway.)

* Regarding the gazebo, by a large margin people preferred the proposal in Concept A, which would relocate the gazebo but keep it in the park's open central section. The proposal in Concept B to move the gazebo to the park's SE corner received more "dislike" than "like" votes, but it was close. People overwhelmingly disliked the proposal in Concept C to move the gazebo to the SW corner. Of those making comments under this item, the most common by far was to keep the gazebo where it is.

* About 3/4 of respondents favored preserving the current gazebo, while about half said they wanted to see a band shell. (OK, there's some overlap here. Let's discuss it.)

* By more than two to one, people voted no on a "paved plaza area."

* By a large margin, people preferred the pathways as shown in Concept A, which proposes a pathway between the two central soccer fields without changing the orientation of these fields.

* By more than three to one, people supported keeping the soft-surface walking/jogging loop in its current location.

* Almost everybody liked the idea of expanding the community garden (but it's clear from other answers that they didn't want to sacrifice a heritage tree to do it). Almost nobody liked the idea of moving the garden up onto a terraced hillside.

* Support was overwhelming (more than two to one) for keeping the north side football field, formally known as Vavrek Field, in its current location. People split much more evenly on whether they wanted this field to be synthetic and lighted.

* Most popular location for the large covered picnic area was the proposal in A, but B was a close second.

* By more than two to one, respondents support keeping the tennis court.

* Respondents favored the proposal in A to move the basketball court by a large margin over the proposals in B or C, but a large number of comments favored not moving it at all.

FLP members should feel vindicated by these results, as it appears that the concerns and opinions expressed by members of our group are widely shared by the rest of the community. There is room here for the genuine aspirations of our community to continue being debated, while the more outlandish proposals of the City's hired contractor have been decisively rejected.

Kathleen Juergens de Ponce
FLP Steering Committee
FLP representative to the City's Project Advisory Committee

Friday, September 24, 2010

They're listening! Thursday meeting brings expanded public comment and focus groups

Five members of Friends of Lents Park participated in a productive meeting Thursday evening at Lents Commons with city representatives close to the Lents Park Master Plan process.

FLP members Raymond Hites, Ken Park, Larry Sullivan, Kathleen Juergens de Ponce and Barbara Bader met with Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong,Community Engagement & Public Involvement Manager, Portland Parks and Recreation; Sarah Coates Huggins, Parks Project Manager for our Master Plan, and Emily Hicks, Commissioner Nick Fish's Policy Coordinator. We were joined by Cora Potter, representing the Project Advisory Committee.

In brief, the city reps seemed to listen closely to everyone's comments on the city's public outreach flaws. A result of the meeting will be an expanded open-house process with several focus groups as we move ahead with the planning process. Thanks to Cora Potter for the idea.

The upcoming meeting between all FLP members and some of Nick Fish's staffers is still in the planning stage. FLP wants the meeting open to everyone who cares about Lents Park. We hope Commissioner Fish will find time to attend that meeting with us all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

City responds to FLP by asking for meetings

We're happy to report that in response to the Sept. 15 letter from FLP (see below), city representatives have requested a meeting. Several FLP delegates will meet Thursday with city reps.

In addition, Commissioner Nick Fish's staff wants to set up a meeting with all members of FLP. Kathleen Juergens de Ponce is working with Commissioner Fish's staff to set up the expanded meeting, which will take place here in the neighborhood. We are hopeful that Commissioner Fish will attend the meeting. Stay tuned for details.

Letter to Nick Fish snags meeting for FLP

The steering committee for Friends of Lents Park emailed to Commissioner Nick Fish and associates a letter outlining the position of FLP members regarding the 25-year Master Plan process for Lents Park. It represents FLP's public comment as a group on the second stage of the process. This does not replace comment forms that our members have filled out as individuals.

In this letter (see below), we have attempted to summarize the main points on which we have heard overwhelming agreement from all the FLP members we've talked to. This document is not meant to express everything everybody wants to say. By all means feel free to contact Commissioner Fish directly with anything you might want to add. You can reach him at 503-823-3589 or nick@portlandoregon.gov.

We have already heard back that Commissioner Fish's people want to meet with us. The steering committee is putting together quickly a delegation for this meeting, so some of you will be getting phone calls. If you want to volunteer for the delegation, please call Kathleen at 503-756-2786.

September 15, 2010
To: Commissioner Nick Fish Director Zari Santner, Portland Parks & Recreation Lents Park Master Plan Project Advisory Committee
From: Friends of Lents Park Steering Committee: Barbara Bader (Interim Member) Diane Camelli Kathleen Juergens de Ponce
Re: Lents Park Master Plan Public Comment on Concept Plan Alternatives

The Friends of Lents Park submits the following as public comment on the “Concept A, B and C” maps for the Lents Park Master Plan. Although our members have submitted individual comment forms, we believe it is appropriate to speak collectively on more fundamental issues of process and assumptions which the City's comment form is not designed to address.
These positions are based on three weeks of intensive engagement with our own membership and the surrounding community since the release of the three concept maps, including four public meetings and hundreds of contacts by phone, e-mail and in person. Our members and the community have overwhelmingly told us:
1. There is a fundamental lack of confidence in the entire Master Plan process, caused by seriously inadequate public involvement on the front end. We were never asked what we want for our park, but have had proposals for dramatic change simply thrown at us.
2. The City needs to slow down its Master Plan process and reopen it to open-ended public comment, even if this means we do not get a final Master Plan in place by January 2011.
3. Future planning processes should start with the understanding that this park is much-beloved in its current configuration, particularly the mature trees. There should be a presumption in favor of maintaining and renovating existing park features in their current locations, with those who would propose significant changes having “burden of proof” to show these changes are supported by the community. The City needs to ask us if we want changes and what those changes might be, not simply engage us in the “how” of rearranging our park.

Friends of Lents Park, founded in May 2009, is the only stakeholder group in the Lents Park Master Plan process whose mission focuses only on the park. Our mission states:
“We seek to preserve, maintain and enhance Lents Park as Open Space in its entirety, for the enjoyment of future generations. We support the neighborhood and surrounding community in all uses of the park that are consistent with this mission.
Our group includes seniors and youth, long-time residents and recent immigrants, and participants in virtually every activity that takes place in the park. Although no one group can claim to speak for Lents, a diverse neighborhood of over 20,000, of all stakeholder groups we represent by far the broadest cross-section of people who use and love the park.
As Commissioner Fish will recall, Friends of Lents Park members helped start up this Master Plan process, following the defeat of the Beavers stadium proposal. Many of us had high hopes that this plan would be a vehicle to reverse years of neglect of our park and help us achieve the repairs and improvements we have wanted for years. Instead, our members are feeling betrayed and angry. Rather than a process which engages us as partners, the City's Master Plan is starting to feel like “the Beavers all over again” - another threat to our park which we must organize and fight.
Inadequate public involvement has caused a lack of confidence in the process
The City's three concept maps all contain dramatic changes that the neighborhood never asked for, some of which are so preposterous that they leave us scratching our heads wondering where these ideas came from. Over and over, we have heard our members complain that the City never asked them what they wanted for the park before drawing up these maps.
The City's first round of public involvement was supposed to accomplish this objective, but it was seriously inadequate. A survey was done, but it was left open for only a week and was filled out by only 132 people. A single open house was held in the park, with the attendees at this one event comprising almost all survey respondents.
The survey should have include more pertinent questions. Do you like the park the way it is? Does the park meet your needs the way it is? What changes would be necessary for this park to do a better job of meeting your needs?
The City's Project Advisory Committee (PAC) had no input and was denied access to the survey prior to the open house. Although a few improvements were made in this second round of public comment, we remain frustrated that our representatives had little meaningful input into the process.
Walker Macy, the city's contractor, has drafted three “concept alternative” maps for the park – and most of the changes in them seem to have been proposed on the contractor's own initiative, just to see how these ideas would be received. Our members have been outraged to

learn that $75,000 of our local urban renewal funds went to draw up these maps, especially since funds have been so scarce for other aspects of public involvement.
We believe that the 330 comment forms that have just been received, once they are tabulated and analyzed, will send a powerful message that the community believes the concept maps do not represent what it wants for Lents Park over the next 25 years.
Reopen and slow down The Master Plan process
Now that public comment has closed on the three “concept alternative” maps, we understand the next step to be that Walker Macy will generate one “preferred concept” map. There will then be another open house and round of public comment before the Master Plan is finalized in January 2011. Friends of Lents Park opposes moving on to these steps until there has been the opportunity for more open-ended community dialog about the park.
There are several reasons why our members feel it is inappropriate to proceed to a “preferred concept” map. First, all three “concept alternatives” are so flawed (particularly regarding tree removal) that we have no confidence in any combination of their elements. Second, it has become clear during public comment on the concept maps that some of the principal ideas being discussed in the community are not even reflected on the concept maps or in the City's comment form. These ideas should be given a place in the process.
In particular, we understand that community leader and PAC member Cora Potter has been actively lobbying for a new concept that would move at least some sports fields out of the park entirely, and re-purpose at least part of the park's central area as botanical gardens. In a straw poll taken at our most recent meeting, almost 1/3 of our members felt at least some of these ideas merited more consideration, but 100% of our members felt that they needed more information about these proposals and/or more time to think about it. We feel strongly that ideas such as Ms. Potter's deserve a fair hearing within the context of a City-sponsored public involvement process.
It is not written in stone that Lents Park needs a new Master Plan by January 2011. In fact, there will be no money to make the changes until there's a new parks bond – 2012 at the earliest. In our recent straw poll, 100% voted that meaningful community input on the park's future is more important than having a Master Plan in place by January. This is a 25-year plan. Let's take the time to get it right.
Our neighborhood resources are being used for the process, so we should have the final say in how they are spent. Make line item budget details available to the PAC, including unspent funds under Walker Macy's contract, and let the PAC help decide how these resources can be best allocated.
Presumption should be in favor of keeping the park as it is
Friends of Lents Park has received much feedback from our members that, given what they know from the process so far, they like the park the way it is. In particular, our members feel very strongly about preservation of the park's existing mature trees.

Our members are angry that this position is being ignored.
This does not mean our members are against any changes to the park. Rather, this is a question of fundamental assumptions. The City and Walker Macy seem to assume that dramatic changes are coming. Our members want any planning process to start with the love this community feels for Lents Park, and proceed carefully from there. Any proposal for significant change should meet a “burden of proof” that it is supported by the community. It's not enough to choose a plan by default because people failed to object.
If the final “vote” on the concept maps turns out to be “no” on most aspects of all three maps – and we believe this is a very likely outcome – the City and Walker Macy should, in the short term, repair and renovate the park in its current configuration. Then, slow down the 25-year planning process and roll out a meaningful public involvement plan. The community has been asking for this for years. It is also the most fiscally prudent option in the current economy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Links to Sept. 11th Open House Flyers

Here are the links to the Open House Flyers advertising the Sept. 11 event in English and in Spanish that you can print and post:

     English Friends of Lents Park Open House Flyer

     Spanish Friends of Lents Park Open House Flyer

Please contact us if you can help flyer the neighborhood:

     Friends of Lents Park (FLP): 503-331-0326

     Or send us an email with your contact info: email

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vision Dialogue

Friends of Lents Park members are invited to a Vision Dialogue at 6:30 pm Tuesday at Lents Commons Coffeehouse (92nd/Foster). Join us for a respectful discussion of proposals for dramatic changes to come in Lents Park. This is a great chance to share our different visions for the park, so please come to make sure your thoughts are part of the discussion.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

City Extends Comment Deadline

Hooray! The City's given us a few more days to get the word out about potential changes in Lents Park. We have until September 15 to get out the info, distribute surveys and turn them in.

We'll have surveys at the Lents Park Open House Saturday September 11 at 1 p.m. at the Lents Park Gazebo.

Contact Friends of Lents Park if you want surveys for friends & neighbors.

See you next Saturday.

Open House in Lents Park!

The City is making its plan for the Park's next 25 years! Let's tell them what we think about it!

Friends of Lents Park Open House
1 p.m., Saturday September 11
@ Lents Park Gazebo

All Lovers of Lents Park are invited to:

--See the City's plans!

--Get the most current information!

--Fill out the City's survey about the plans!

--Share your thoughts about Lents Park changes!

--Bring friends & family!

Deadline for survey comments has been extended to September 15. Let's use the time to tell city planners what citizens of Lents want for our park.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Is the Master Plan for Lents Park Your Master Plan?

Lents Park Needs You Again!

Friends of Lents Park (FLP): 503-331-0326
The City of Portland is creating a Master Plan to guide development in the park over the next 25 years. They are now looking at three design alternatives for re-shaping the park, some of which make pretty dramatic changes. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but should not be done without input from the community.

The Comment Period Ends September 8!

Do you agree that one of the three proposed plans (link below) is what your park needs? You may feel the three "design options" are bogus, but if people do not say this on the comment forms, the City will take this as evidence that the neighborhood does not object to the proposed changes.

If you are not in favor of any of the three proposed plans and feel that a plan that makes improvements but also preserves the park is needed, please respond by clicking this link to send an email and FLP will make sure your voice is heard.


*URGENT: Fill out your survey and get it in, if you haven't already done so. Spread the word far and wide for others to do it too! And remember, we are NOT limited to choosing between A, B or C. "None of the above" is an option, and we need to say so!

*Click here to see the online version of the plans: Three Plans

*Click here for the comment form:
Parks Comment Form

*Paper maps and comment forms are available at Lents Commons Coffeehouse, SE 92nd & Foster, 6:30 am to 7:00 pm.

*200 more copies of the comment form, maps packet and related flyer are being distributed by hand. Call FLP if you want to deliver some copies of the comment form to your own family, friends, neighbors, etc.

*Lents Famers Market on Sunday and a big church event in the park on Labor Day are both opportunities to get comment forms filled out. Do you have time to put in on either of these days? Please call FLP for info and to volunteer.

*Donations are more than welcome to help pay for the mailing and other costs.If you can swing it, please kick in a few bucks to FLP. Give your donation to any Steering Committee member or call FLP.


For those who have doubts about the skatespot, but are willing to keep an open mind, FLP has video of a similar-sized facility at Holly Farm Park in SW Portland. We'll post that soon on this blog.

Input & Feedback

Feel free to research any aspects that concern you about the Master Plan. Please report back to the FLP with any information you find. We need input in particular from community gardeners and team sports participants. Kathleen Juergens de Ponce is getting in touch with Spanish-speaking soccer players.

Check out the City's Lents Park project page (follow the link from http://www.portlandparks.org/) for helpful background documents, including the skate system report and raw data from the first round of public involvement.

First FLP Meeting

Potential changes to Lents Park were discussed by some members of Friends of Lents Park (FLP) Monday evening, August 30. Though individuals have a variety of opinions on details of Master Plan "Concepts" A, B & C that were first presented to Lents residents at an open house August 26, the consensus of the group was that the park should be changed as little as possible, especially regarding the trees. Money should be spent on maintaining and upgrading -- not changing -- Lents Park. There are mixed opinions about the addition of the skatespot.

The Lents Park Master Plan will be a "vision" document to guide development of the park over the next 25 years. It will be adopted by City Council and become official City policy.

Nothing that goes into the Master Plan will happen automatically. Projects will still need to be funded and approved individually. For the next 25 years, Master Plan projects will have a fast track through the Council. Any proposal that goes against the Master Plan will have an uphill battle. The time for citizen involvement is NOW!

The last Master Plan was completed in 1981, and most of the projects envisioned in it, such as the running track, have become reality.

The City has convened an advisory committee to oversee the Master Planning process. Kathleen Juergens de Ponce is on the committee representing Friends of Lents Park.

The Process

So far, FLP's mandate has been to make sure that no pro ball stadium or anything of a similar type or scale is included in the Master Plan. This is assured by by putting language in the Master Plan vision statement clarifying that "events" in the park should be "neighborhood scale events."

The City's process so far has included interviewing “stakeholder groups,” including Friends of Lents Park, and conducting a survey on park priorities. The survey was "open" for only one week and received only 132 responses. FLP committee reps protested that this was not enough time and does not constitute adequate input from the public. They were not told ahead of time there would be only a week, and were unable to get the word out to members during that time.) Despite assurances that input on park priorities will continue to be taken throughout the second stage of the process, we have only a brief window to make our views known.

The City's contractor, Walker Macy, crafted the three concepts for the "new" Lents Park. Please review the designs and complete the survey immediately.