Luuwit View and Gateway Discovery parks are set to open in the fall, as we learned when we took a tour of the under-construction parks over the summer. Excitement for the projects’ completion is now reaching a fever pitch within Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R). We spoke with Mark Ross from PP&R media relations and Britta Herwig, project manager on Luuwit View, to see what the status of the parks is and if they’ll be ready to open on time.
Gateway Discovery is steadily moving toward a fall opening date, as predicted over the summer. While not set to open quite as early as Luuwit View, the park is tentatively scheduled to have a soft opening in the fall and something more grandiose in the spring.
“With weather and permitting and construction finishing, we still don’t have a set opening date yet—it will probably be late fall—and then the grand opening will be in spring when the weather is better,” says Ross about the park.
Project Manager George Lozovoy was not available for comment, but since our tour of the park with him over the summer, a lot has changed at the site. Most of the larger construction work is done, including the water feature, the structures that are meant to cover the eating area and the small office for a PP&R employee to work from on site.
Most interestingly perhaps to locals living near the park, but also to those with concerns about the long-term health of the parks, is that the groups of rundown recreational vehicles, vans and other encampments that were surrounding the park have largely disappeared. A clean sweep of the area in the week following the publishing of our last issue has created a new excitement with the nearby residents for the park to open.
“As the season progresses, we’ll have a better idea, as there are several factors that can affect the completion date, such as weather, permitting and just plain ol’ construction work,” says Ross. “We’ll be very excited to share the opening date for Gateway Discovery as soon as it can be firmed up.”
Meanwhile, Luuwit View, the larger and more complex of the two parks, is on the verge of completion and grand opening, and everyone involved is brimming with positivity over it.
“Our sports field is ready to go, [and] the playground looks awesome; it’s going to be fantastic for kids of all ages,” says Herwig. “We have set an opening date for Oct. 21, and we’re confident we can make that.”
Ross clarifies that unlike Gateway Discovery, Luuwit View will enjoy a full opening all at once.
“Not only is that the opening date [Oct. 21], it’s the grand opening for the public to come out and enjoy whatever our Community Engagement team is going to have—some light refreshments and brief remarks,” says Ross, “because we recognize that a giant 15-acre jewel of a park for a part of Portland that desperately needed such amenities is going to be a big deal.”
“We’ve heard from the community a lot over the last few months, as it becomes obvious that something is happening. It looks almost done. We’ve heard a lot from people, that they’re excited—we’re excited to be able to open the park this fall like we promised.
Herwig added that the recent rains have made the entire park bloom, and the increase in the green everywhere has made the park come alive. The fog garden, an innovative new take on a water feature that we learned about in our tour of the facility, is also nearing completion. Herwig also noted that the sculpture by Ecuadorian artist Mauricio Robalino is complete and fits in well with the whole park.
“I think it will be a landmark that people come to know the park by. It’s oriented perfectly to look toward Luuwit View,” says Herwig of the sculpture, adding that there will be an unveiling at the grand opening.
As for the community gardens, which have been the subject of a good deal of anticipation in the community, reservations will soon be open with the first seeds going in in the spring. Laura Niemi is the community gardens coordinator for PP&R and is handling the opening of the garden plots at Luuwit View, but Herwig indicated she won’t open the reservations process up until the park itself opens on Oct. 21. People interested in reserving a plot can also monitor the PP&R website, which has a community gardens section that allows you to get in line for a reservation. As of press time for this piece, the online form did not list Luuwit View as available for reservation yet.
“For now, we’ll overseed all the garden areas with a nitrogen-fixing annual so the quality of the soil is preserved and we don’t get any weeds. And then in the spring we’ll kick it off, and we’re very excited to add that,” says Herwig of the gardens.
“We have concerts, movies [and] lunches planned for the summer,” says Ross; “That stuff is still to be determined, but first we’re going to open it.”
The grand opening of Luuwit View is tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, but Herwig and Ross encourage the public to either check in at PP&R’s website to confirm the date.
Mark Ross, PP&R spokesperson, requested his contact information be removed from the original article.