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City, residents consider Gateway Park design


There will someday be (hopefully soon) a three-acre park, accompanied by a residential-commercial development, on Northeast Halsey Street. Last month residents were given a shot at deciding just what the new entity should look like, and what it should contain.

At an open house at the East Portland Community Center attended by about 30 people, Portland Development Commission staff and consultants presented three possible concepts for the new park and development, on land between Northeast 104th and 106th avenues once occupied by J.J. North's Restaurant, a bingo parlor and a dry cleaner. They then allowed those who attended to ask questions and discuss issues individually, vote for their preferences, and to make written comments.

As presented by consultants Bob Boileau and John Dykhuizen, all three plans call for about an acre of mixed use development fronting on Halsey, with ground floor retail below residential. All three park schemes include a multi-use plaza, a water feature and children's play area.

Concept A devotes the most frontage along Halsey to the development. In the park, there is an emphasis upon “active” uses such as basketball, a skateboard skate spot or team sports. There is also a large children's play area.

Concept B's development is more compact in terms of Halsey frontage. The children's play area is much smaller, a large area given over to gardens and planted green spaces, and there is an emphasis on “passive” use. This last includes bocce ball courts, strolling gardens and seating areas. This, the consultants say, would put the maximum “eyes on the park” in terms of visibility, an important goal as defined in a previous open house.

Concept C would give over the smallest Halsey frontage to development. Going deeper into the property, the building is served in part by Northeast Clackamas Street, which would partially bisect the property; it would be vacated in the other two concepts. The children's play area would be midway between the other two in size. There would be both a planted green area and active recreation area, although the former would be much larger.

Concept C, one of three possible designs for a proposed new park and development on Northeast Halsey Street in Gateway. To see all three design proposals visit the Gateway Regional Center Urban Renewal Website:

After presenting the options, PDC staff and consultants told attendees that the final design will likely be a combination of all three, but asked the audience for feedback on “what you like and dislike.”

Based on the conversation and voting, Concept C seemed to be the most popular. Gateway Urban Renewal Program Advisory Committee co-chair Jackie Putnam gave it a strong endorsement. Hazelwood activist Linda Robinson said she was leaning in this direction, but disliked having the park bisected by Clackamas. Arlene Kimura, Hazelwood neighborhood chair, and Christopher Masiochi, board member, also expressed a preference for C.

Developer and Gateway PAC member Ted Gilbert says that from a development point of view Concept A is the most favorable configuration because it gives the building maximum Halsey street frontage. However, he told the Memo, “That doesn't mean it's the best concept overall.” Others disliked A because it cut the park off almost entirely from public views on this street.

At last month's open house for Gateway Park design review, neighbor Ron McDowell asks Portland Parks & Recreation Project Manager Kathleen 'Kip' Wadden a question about the future park's security. His concern arises because there are few residences near the site on Northeast Halsey Street between 104th and 106th Avenues.”
For nearby neighbor Ron McDowell residential eyes on the park are all important; without this, he says, it will become a site for crime, since commercial establishments are deserted by early evening. He did not want to see low-income housing there.

Neither does Masiochi. “We need a variety of housing in every community, not just dump all the low-income housing in east Portland,” he told the Memo.

PDC Project Manager Justin Douglas says there are yet no cost estimates for developing any of the concepts, and no money for this purpose in the Gateway Regional Center Urban Renewal budget for the next five years. However, he added, a master plan is a prerequisite for obtaining development money from any source.
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