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

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,, 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!