|Senns Dairy Park moves forward
Phase I will soon be completed, but more work is needed to finish the job
FOR THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
The anticipation of having a community park in the Parkrose Neighborhood has been long awaited by many families within the community. Many parents, including myself, look forward to having our very own park in which our children can play. As for our potential community park, Senns Dairy Park, the future is still uncertain. Senns Dairy Park is located on the corner of Northeast 112th Avenue and Prescott Street. As many remember, the site is the old Senns Dairy Drive-thru where we would purchase milk in glass bottles and other dairy products. Multnomah County acquired the one-acre property through a tax foreclosure in approximately 1999 and it remained an empty, grassy lot for an extended period of time. The City of Portland, Bureau of Parks and Recreation, accepted title for park use in September of 2000.
The idea for a park began through a non-profit agency, Family Works; which was a sub-agency of Lutheran Community Services NW, or LCSNW. Through Family Works, The Parkrose Target-Area was created to identify community needs and assist in neighborhood improvements. Christine Charneski, Target Area Coordinator, was assigned the task. She conducted a door-to-door survey discovering that the majority interest was for a community park. The Target Area set to work.
The City Bureau of Housing and Community Development, or BHCD contributed nearly all of the development costs. The Bureau of Environmental Services provided a $6000 grant for the native plant landscape.
As BHCD funds have been exhausted, I am advocating that System Development Charges, or SDCs, be used to complete the park. There is a precedent, as many neighborhood parks have received SDCs, the fees collected to help offset the impact that construction projects add to the Citys infrastructure of storm and sanitary sewer systems, parks and recreation facilities, and street systems. Wilkes Park, a 1.8-acre site at Northeast 154th Avenue just south of Sandy Boulevard received $225,000 in SDC funds plus help from Parks and Recreation in securing over $70,000 in other funding and resources for development. Holly Farm Park near Southwest 47th Avenue and Capitol Highway is a 1.7 acre site that received $1.16 million in SDC money and state lottery dollars to purchase the land and nearly $700,000 to develop the property thanks to support from Parks and Recreation.
The Parkrose Neighborhood is growing rapidly. Many new housing developments are sprouting up generating SDC fees. But Parks and Recreation has been resistant to contributing even a small amount of funding to continue the development of this neighborhood park in a very park deficient area. Wouldnt it be appropriate to allocate some of the SDC funds to the same neighborhood from which the City received them? In other words, shouldnt Senns Dairy Park receive a portion of the SDC fees that come from a house being built five blocks away?
Unfortunately, the Target Area had a limited time frame in the Parkrose neighborhood. Due to many recent county budget cuts, Family Works closed its doors in February of this year. The Target Areas commitment to the park ended slightly sooner than anticipated. Currently, the park is going through a transfer of management from LCSNW to the Friends of Senns Dairy Park, a group of Parkrose community activists. Parks and Recreation and the Friends of Senns Dairy are negotiating a working plan.
Neighbors may have noticed a recent visible transformation of the park. Phase I will be completed within the next month. The temporary fencing is still up to give the grass some time to grow and become well established, but will be coming down very soon. There is a clear walking pathway around the water swale. The native plants, installed by volunteers are growing and being watered under the supervision of volunteer Janelle Singleton, her friends and neighbors. Singleton has strong feelings about the project. She says, We need a park in our neighborhood, its our turn to have a park and Im working hard to make it happen. Senns Dairy Park is the backbone of our neighborhood. To this end, she has marshaled volunteers from the Boy and Girl Scouts to help with the project, and had her own children work alongside her to make it a reality.
Every time I drive by the park site now, I get goose bumps! You can see for yourself that it is almost there.
Charneski has been instrumental in developing the park from an overgrown, unsightly lot to a significant, vital centerpiece for the community. To show appreciation for all her efforts and those of the many park volunteers, I believe our community should rally together to complete the park.
It is time for the whole community to get involved. We need to seek guidance and support from other citizen-developed parks, such as Wilkes and Holly Farm. If you own a pick-up truck, you could volunteer to help haul debris. Perhaps your church youth group is looking for a community service project. Any form of participation will be an asset to the park. If you need inspiration, look to Joe Rossi, who led the campaign to preserve the history of the land by having it named after Walter Senn, owner of Senns Dairy.
Without community participation and support, the park will cease to exist. This is a crucial time for Senns Dairy Park. Lets take some pride in our Parkrose neighborhood and work together to finish Senns Dairy Park. Ask yourself this question: Do you want to see a neighborhood park that we can all use on this site, or an overgrown, vacant lot? If you can help in any way contact me at 503-453-2781, or e-mail me your questions and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org
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