After 10 years, park site in high-poverty Cully neighborhood gets first improvement: Portland City Hall roundup

By: Brad Schmidt - Jun 18, 2012
Source: The Oregonian
Ten years after the city of Portland acquired 25 acres for a park in Cully, the first improvements are scheduled this year. 

Fundraising efforts by Verde, a nonprofit created in 2005, will pay for a new community garden. The garden will occupy less than one acre and is estimated to cost about $53,000. 

Portland's Cully neighborhood is among the poorest in the city, with an estimated 35 percent of residents living below the federal poverty line. It's also one of the few areas where non-white residents are the majority. The park site is a former sand and gravel mine that went on to become a special waste landfill that continues to produce methane. 

The community garden plan heads to the Portland City Council on Wednesday for approval. The city would kick in $13,500 for the community garden and cover annual maintenance estimated at about $6,000. 

Portland officials have set a goal to open 1,000 garden plots by the end of the year

Verde has raised more than $1.2 million in grants and in-kind contributions for park efforts at Cully, according to the city, which includes a $577,000 grants from the Nature in Neighborhoods program through regional government Metro. 

"Verde has done a great job," said Todd Lofgren, property and business development manager for Portland's Parks & Recreation Bureau. 

Total costs for phase 1 development -- which would include trails, exercise equipment, a youth soccer field, a basketball court, a nature area, an off-lease dog park, and a "green" overhaul for Northeast 72nd Ave. -- are estimated at almost $3.8 million. 

According to the city's master plan, total park improvements were estimated to cost $11.8 million to $18.5 million, depending on options. 

When the community garden opens, it will be the only part of the site open to the public.