Monday, October 11, 2010

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,, or 503-331-0326.

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