“Hello! it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” said Commissioner Amanda Fritz, quoting Mr. Rogers, to open her remarks on the tennis courts at Argay Park, which have completed their renovations and are fully reopened for community use. On Tuesday, Oct. 17, in the cold and steady rain, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) opened the courts with a ceremony and lessons from tennis teachers for the kids in attendance.
“We are very thankful for you turning out to reopen these tennis courts,” said Fritz to the small and wet—but cheerful—crowd of onlookers and young tennis players.
“Thanks to Doug Cook and the Argay Terrace Neighborhood Association, which has been a leader in helping us with all the projects here. There are a lot of good things happening here,” Fritz said, referencing the opening of nearby Luuwit View Park later in the week.
The tennis courts at Argay Park, Northeast 141st Avenue and Failing Street, were refurbished as part of a PP&R bond measure passed in November 2014 (“Tennis courts get million dollar makeover” MCM May 2016”). They represent phase one of a multi-tiered plan to infuse the parks across Portland with funding, new programming and new life. After a renovation that lasted most of the summer, the nearly unusable courts are now pristine and have new stanchions, nets, surfaces, benches and water fountain, in addition to new energy in the tennis program for kids—regardless of which court they play on.
The positive atmosphere at the opening continued as Commissioner Fritz introduced Argay Terrace Neighborhood Association Head Doug Cook, who spoke briefly as well.
“These courts have been a big part of our community for a long, long time,” said Cook before recounting an anecdote from some neighbors of his who have been playing on those courts since the 1960s.
PP&R Director Abbaté also spoke at the event, and he highlighted the importance of the courts to the east side of the city.
“They’re our furthest east courts, and they mean a lot to people who live east of I-205,” said Abbaté, who went on to thank a long list of participants in the courts’ renovation. He then highlighted the involvement of Portland Tennis Center Director Eric Quiroz.
Quiroz is the tennis manager for PP&R and will be heavily involved with programs at the four newly revamped courts moving forward.
While the crowd at the time of the speeches wasn’t tremendously large, it did attract local TV coverage and a steady flow of participants taking advantage of the elegant new courts. We spoke to Doug Cook before he gave his remarks.
“People have been coming and going, and a lot of kids came over after school. There was a bit of a crowd here between 2 and 3 p.m.,” said Cook. There had been some reservations about the park expressed by some residents, including Cook, in previous coverage of the renovations (“Argay tennis courts renovation: Game point” MCM August 2017); however, everyone seemed high on the courts’ potential at the opening ceremony. “Any time the city invests or reinvests in the neighborhood and creates new assets for us, it’s a fantastic thing. I’m very supportive,” said Cook.
One of the concerns expressed in our prior coverage of the tennis courts was the idea that residents don’t really play tennis. There’s certainly not enough data to go on yet; however, judging by the enthusiasm of the surprisingly healthy (at times)-sized group of people in attendance, it seems tennis indeed is enjoyed in Argay Terrace. Considering the weather was decidedly rough for a sport like tennis, the crowd was admirably large and tenacious.
Paolina Toncinich and her daughter Arabella were at the opening, participating in the free lessons and enjoying the experience—despite the weather.
“We have family nearby, and we come to this park,” said Toncinich. Her daughter had played not only at the Tennis Center under Quiroz but also at summer camp, and she has been looking forward to the use of the tennis courts. “It’s a lot better than what it was,” said Toncinich, who expressed hope that the rest of Argay Park might at some point receive a similar facelift.
Commissioner Fritz took the stage once more after the other speakers finished and thanked the voters who put up the revenue for the project. “Thanks to the voters who supported the Fix Our Parks Bond in November of 2014. We’re doing a lot of repairs like this. This is magnificent,” said Fritz. “It’s built to last. We also did a number of Americans with Disabilities Act improvements. It’s really for everybody.”
The only sour note on the day was the damage to the nearby field that was evidently done recently by a joyrider in a car. But it couldn’t take away from anyone’s positivity on the day.
“In phase two of the bond measure, we’ll be replacing play equipment on Argay Park,” said Fritz. “This whole week is really a celebration of the Argay Terrace neighborhood.”
“This is our space; this is your space. You don’t need an invitation—just come and use it,” said Fritz in closing. She then invited Arabella Toncinich up to help with the ribbon cutting, which was followed by more tennis, cupcakes and rain.
“We have a diverse neighborhood with diverse interests, and we can give opportunities to them that meet their interests,” said Cook after the ceremony. He continued, “What they don’t get here at this park, they get at Luuwit View. I think they’re very complimentary parks. I think that’s great.”