Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 23rd, 2010 at 9:20 pm
Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish announced earlier today that the City of Portland will assume an official leadership role in the Gateway Green project. It's been over a year since the project has moved significantly forward, but today Fish said the City's decision to step up with leadership responsibility and financial commitment will help "break the logjam."
Back in August 2009, Governor Kulongoski selected the project — which will convert an unused, 35-acre parcel of land between I-205 and I-84 into a bicycle recreation area — to be part of the Oregon Solutions program. That was exciting news because it meant Gateway Green was a high priority project for the State of Oregon and that it would benefit from a host of resources; but there was one key piece of the puzzle that remained. In order for ODOT (as the current landowners) to move forward with a lease agreement, a lead agency needed to step forward to assume managerial, financial and legal responsibility for the parcel. Now the City of Portland is that lead agency.
"I think it's a wonderful vision. We have momentum because of the Oregon Solutions process, it's an under-served part of the city and it's a chance to provide expanded off-road cycling opportunities in East Portland which is a win-win."
— City Commissioner Nick Fish
In addition to becoming the lead agency, Fish said today that the City of Portland has agreed to "put money on the table to make this vision a reality." "With the Mayor's strong support, we have agreed to put in the FY 2013 budget the operating money to make this work." Fish says they've committed to about $200,000 of ongoing operations and maintenance funding.
Fish also announced today that the City is committed to working with project partners to fund Phase One of the project and to oversee the construction management. Phase One, roughly estimated to cost $5 million, includes all the trails and bike-related amenities.
These big announcements mean the project will now move forward to the signing of a "Declaration of Cooperation" with all the project stakeholders. Fish staffer Emily Hicks says that the declaration will likely be signed in the next two months and trail construction could begin in 2012 with completion by summer of 2013.
From his office today, Commissioner Fish told BikePortland that credit for breaking the logjam goes to Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves and Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder, the two appointed "co-conveners" of the project. "They did a masterful job as co-conveners of this process and the mayor and I are now strongly committed to doing this."
With so many other priorities competing for scarce dollars these days, I asked Commissioner Fish why he decided to commit the City to Gateway Green:
"Mayor Adams and I think it's a wonderful vision, we have momentum because of the Oregon Solutions process, it's an under-served part of the city and it's a chance to provide expanded off-road cycling opportunities in East Portland which a win-win for me. There's also strong community support and it allows us to establish leadership in an area we have historically been deficient in... It is one of the most promising things I've seen in a while."
We first shared the vision for Gateway Green back in May 2008, when developer Ted Gilbert and parks advocate Linda Robinson unveiled their plans to the public. Learn more about Gateway Green at GatewayGreenPDX.org and browse our Gateway Green tag for previous coverage.
CORRECTION: I originally reported that the City would use Urban Renewal Funds to pay for Phase One of the project, but that is not accurate. No decisions about Urban Renewal Funds have been made yet. I also incorrectly reported that Phase One cost $1 million. The amount is actually estimated at $5 million. Sorry for any confusion.