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

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