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A crowdfunding test for Gateway Green bike park project

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 3rd, 2013 at 12:21 pm

A tour of East Portland-1.jpg
The Gateway Green parcel, as seen from the I-205 path looking south toward the Gateway Transit Center.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)


This Thursday, the State of Oregon will try something unprecedented: They'll turn to crowdfunding. The guinea pig is Gateway Green, a project that will develop 38 acres of vacant land in east Portland — once the site of Rocky Butte Jail — into a bike park and world-class public space.

We first shared the vision for this project back in May 2008 when we sat down with developer Ted Gilbert and east Portland uber-advocate Linda Robinson. Since then, the project has garnered support from dozens of public and private partners and elected officials.

Backers of the project have also just released this promo video titled, Build Gateway Green

With the recent transfer of the property from the Oregon Department of Transportation (it's adjacent to I-205 and I-84) to the City of Portland Parks & Recreation bureau, Gilbert and Robinson are moving the project into high gear. That's where crowdfunding comes in.

Oregon Solutions, the governor-appointed body that is working to move the project forward, has decided to use crowdfunding site Indiegogo for the fundraising effort. The campaign will launch this Thursday, September 5th. Their goal will be $100,000 and the campaign is just as much about marketing and momentum building as it is about cold, hard cash. Oregon Solutions Project Manager Jim Jacks tells us they're counting on a big response to the campaign in order to "Build a reservoir of support to get the thing built over time."

According to Jacks, the money raised from crowdfunding will be spent on trail designers and landscape engineers who will bring the parcel of land into a "shovel-ready" state. Highly detailed and finalized plans are a key requirements for two reasons: to qualify for government and/or private foundation grants; and to attain the permits neccessary to break ground.

But Gateway Green backers are in a tricky place. They've been asking for public support without having anything to show for it for many years now. It's the classic chicken-and-egg scenario: They need to start building the trails and new public amenities in order to spur the public's enthusiasm; but they need that same public support to raise money to begin construction.

Why should we support this project? Here's how Ted Gilbert described it in an email to supporters last week: "Gateway Green will provide a free, public area for walking, running, biking and picnicking, but also host national and international athletic events, and be an attractor for bicycle tourism." And off-road cycling advocate and member of the Northwest Trail Alliance Tom Archer says, "This new park promises to be a fantastic resource for Portland cyclists and the region... we anticipate the park will include singletrack, gravity, BMX and cyclocross elements. If you like to ride on two wheels, there’ll be something for you."

This project will need millions of dollars to be fully built out. While the crowdfunding campaign will raise just a small chunk of that, backers see it more as an opportunity to show the powers-that-be that the public is behind this project and that it's worth putting real money into.

Check out GatewayGreenPDX.org for more info and watch the Indiegogo campaign page on Thursday for your opportunity to donate.

— Read more Gateway Green coverage in our archives.

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  • Frank Selker September 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I confess to not being enthusiastic about Gateway Green. First, it is surrounded by freeway and, according to the ODEQ maps, among the most polluted air in Portland. Second, opponents of bikes having trail access in Forest Park consistently point to GG as an alternative. It is a bone they would like to throw so they can keep FP to themselves. To my knowledge, supporters of GG have done nothing to counter this or support our access to in FP. Of course cycling opponents would rather hike in 5,000 acre FP rather than a 34 acre vacant lot surrounded by freeways. As a cyclist, I feel the same. Third, I believe Ted Gilbert is a developer with property in the GG area, whom stands to gain from property value increases with such public investment. So why am I, in addition to my tax dollars already spent on public works and Portland Parks, being asked to fund this?

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    • Bjorn September 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      I keep waiting for Marcy Houle to come rescue the wilderness that is gateway green...

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    • dave September 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Because we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good?

      I see the argument about GG taking pressure off FP. But I think it has the potential to do just the opposite - if cyclists can take an isolated brownfield and turn it into something the community loves (and improve the local environment, and increase property values, and demonstrably self-fund in the process), it's going to make a strong case for cyclists, especially us oft-vilified knobby tire recreationlists, being a big part of the solution. And if we're obviously part of the solution, what will that make Marcie Houle?

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    • Eric September 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      I can see where you are coming from, Frank. I would love it if there was more access for mountain biking in FP. But why not look at GG as an opportunity to greater show how much Portland wants more mountain biking, how sustainable properly built trails can be, and how much riders care about taking care of their trails? If this is successful, this could just as easily become a blueprint for increased access to FP.

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    • Donald Newlands September 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      Hi Frank -- where did you find the DEQ maps?

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  • MossHops September 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I'm fine with that. I just hope that politicians involved are consistent across all modes of transport. Specifically, they shouldn't move forward with any revised CRC or further development of the streetcar unless they can crowdfund the same percentage of the total need. This project is looking to crowdfund about 5% of the total.

    The equivalent crowdfunding need for the CRC would be about $175,000,000.

    Eastside streetcar expansion would have only needed a paltry $7,350,000 of crowdsource funding to get off the ground.

    It's amazing how hard it is to fund bike projects considering how cost effective they generally are.

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  • kittens September 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Excellent project for an area chronically starved for parks, but this funding concept is deeply flawed. One of the major reasons we have government is to collect money and redistributes it to things which will benefit people through a democratic process. These crowd funded projects circumvent the process. I can see a day when only rich neighborhoods have nice parks, schools, roads... oh wait. Wealthy people give money to vanity projects which enrich their myopic sphere. I'm skeptical that crowdsourcing will do anything but hasten the systematic process of inequity. We should demand that our government become more responsive to the needs of the people it represents.

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    • Todd Hudson September 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      If crowdfunding were the sole mechanism, you would be right. But it's not.

      Cully, a severely parks-deficient area, is getting a 27-acre park at the former Killingsworth Landfill. This is due to several hard-working nonprofits that secured the grants to build it.

      Suggesting that we do nothing because it might be unfair is a terrible idea. We should be using every funding mechanism available.

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  • grannygear September 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    It's interesting that the subaru bikers need trails so groomed and spoon fed for them.
    The dirt at greenway exists. Either shred it or don't.
    PNW seems addicted to action sports parks.

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    • Hugh Johnson September 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      why hate on Subarus?

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    • Charley September 3, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Patronize much?
      -
      There are a few paths there. I've ridden them, and they don't live up to the potential of the space, and they're not long at all, anyway. So shredding ain't really gonna happen right now. Furthermore, it's illegal for private citizens to build their own, and pointless anyway, since they'd be torn down by the city. Maybe the PNW is addicted to being active, sure. It's better than living on a computer screen.
      -
      Finally, I drive a Honda, thank you very much.
      Cheers

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    • Todd Hudson September 4, 2013 at 8:36 am

      Amy Harwood is that you? Perhaps Marcy Houle?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • CaptainKarma September 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    I support the GG and will throw in. Also will volunteer maintenance, planting, whatever. The outer east needs this.

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  • Brian September 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Another supporter here. My 4 year old isn't going to be stoked to ride his new BMX bike on the trails at FP anytime soon, no matter how many miles are built. This is a place we can ride together.
    Mountain biking is evolving into many disciplines, and this is the type of place that is needed for different types of riders.

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  • Allan September 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Couldn't this article have waited until the links to donate actually worked ?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Yes it could have. But it didn't. Now I can do a follow-up with the link and I'll include some other stuff too. Thanks.

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  • q`Tzal September 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I understand that a lot of the work will involve heavy equipment and engineers so money is required.
    Considering the proportion of under-employed people out there it might be nice for the GG project to point out some sweat equity time & effort donations (either brute labor or skilled professionals that would freely donate their time) for those short on cash.

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  • Craig September 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I'll be donating. I ride around that space now and I've wondered if it was/is legal. I can't wait to see some purpose built, legal mountain biking trials in Portland. Happy to volunteer some trail building time to this park as well.

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  • Will Heiberg September 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I think this is a great project and am really excited by it. Having more places for kids and family's to enjoy cycling is critical. The more people that adopt a bike for recreation, the more support Portland will see to maintain and improve infrastructure. I will definitely be supporting this!

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  • Kiel Johnson September 3, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    great idea to show community involvement and interest in a project! the internet allows for a more responsive and effective government it is exciting to see people trying new ways to accomplish that.

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  • Jessica Roberts September 3, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    I don't ride offroad, but I'll be donating. I like a lot of things about this project - making something out of nothing; creating opportunities for people to ride in their own backyard; creating more greenspace and recreational opportunities in East Portland (which badly needs and deserves it); making places where kids can ride with their parents/guardians/siblings; and especially the obvious community enthusiasm and investment to date. I think more projects should be like this!

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  • Jim Labbe September 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    The Gateway Green project reconnects neighborhoods divided by a freeway and severely cut off from parks and nature. Adjacent Park Rose Heights Neighborhood is one of the most park deficient neighborhoods in the region with only 10% of residents living within a 10 minute walking distance of a public park (the regional average is 50% according to Regional Equity Atlas). Gateway Green would directly serve Park Rose Heights as well as the Hazelwood and Park Rose neighborhoods that also have very low public park access. Gateway Green would provide over 33 acres of new parkland where it is needed most without taking on acre of property tax rolls (since it is underutilized public property). Also new access from to South Madison to the West would connect to the planned Sullivan’s Gulch Trail, providing a needed human-scale connection between Downtown and East Portland. This project is very worthy of community support.

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    • Frank Selker September 3, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Jim Labbe has been an ardent opponent of providing bikes with access to trails in Forest Park. Seem odd that the Audubon, who's stated purpose is summarized "Audubon Society of Portland promotes the understanding, enjoyment, and protection of native birds, other wildlife, and their habitats" is strongly supporting cycling out there by the freeway? There's a reason, and it's called Forest Park.

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      • Terry D September 3, 2013 at 11:30 pm

        The west side has a great park system that has been built over a century...please, give the east side a bone. It is not like the majority of residents live there or anything...oh wait, 2/3rds of Portland residents DO live on the east side.

        Why do they not deserve something nice? Is it because they are lower income?

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      • Jim Labbe September 3, 2013 at 11:34 pm

        I don't want to side track things here, but Frank Selker's comment are patently false. I served for over a year on a Forest Park Conservancy committee with single track advocates like Tom Archer, Mark Pickett, and others that made specific recommendations for expanding single track in Forest Park. Read it (with my name attached) here:

        http://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/fpc-mtb-white-paper-final.pdf

        Regardless, a lot of good people are working hard to make Gateway Green a reality and the project has many benefits- apart from expanding off-road cycling opportunities- that make it very worthy of support. Far from being a substitute for Forest Park, Gateway Green may in fact provide the collaborative model that so far has eluded (and thus could inform) efforts in Forest Park. I for one have found it to be a much more rewarding project with which to be involved.

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  • Leslie Carlson September 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Anytime we claw back space that's been ruined by cars and freeways and give it back to people for use on foot and bikes, I'm for it. I'll be donating on the 5th.

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  • Aaron September 3, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I'm super excited about Gateway Green. I'll be putting in some sweat equity into it for sure. The one thing that really bothers me is the dollar figures that are being thrown around. Millions? Really?

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    • Frank Selker September 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      Yes. This is from Nick Fish's office on the subject:

      "Regarding Gateway Green - a bridge over the freeway would be considerably more than $5m."

      Shades of CRC, in Parks' budget.

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  • Terry D September 3, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Look into this project closely. It is Well designed, is something this city really needs and is in a park deficient area of the city.

    I do not mountain bike, and I think this is a great idea. The park outside of Boulder, that this idea is modeled on, has had spectacular reviews. I do not see why this has anything to do with Forest Park. That is the complete other side of the city. There are different trail concerns and different environmental concerns. Yes, Forrest park is the gem that could be, but look at the slopes of Rocky Butte?

    Gateway Green can be just the beginning. That whole region between Rocky Butte and the freeways could be redeveloped. GG also would have significantly MORE access to more residents since it is in the middle of the east side at the cross over of the I 205 Bike Path and the future Hancock/ Sullivan's Gulch under-crossing that will connect up to the Tillamook Greenway. It is also right near the crossing of four light rail lines. The NW hills are that that...In the west side where everything has been built.

    As far as the new concept of "crowd sourcing" the initial funding...this is a PARK. Think about the huge number of parks that have had their original designs and land donated by rich robber barons in the past when the 1% actually cared about civic responsibilities. This is just a 21st century version trying to get those of the majority that actually CAN afford to support something like this an opportunity to initially support it. This is NOT the CRC, street car or some other TRANSPORTATION link, this is a PARK. This country has a long tradition of parks being initially funded through private donations.

    As far as air quality is concerned.....riding up 30 is not a pick-nick and the NW Hills are right up the hill from the most toxic areas of industrialization in the city. Until the internal combustion engine is killed, air quality is always going to be an issue in the valley.

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    • Frank Selker September 4, 2013 at 5:26 am

      I like the idea of improving recreation opportunities in all of Portland and making better use of idle land. And I agree, the air in FP is also not clean, and city noise is even audible in much of FP.

      However, I've also seen how this effort has been promoted by those wanting us out of Forest Park, and as an alternative to access to natural trails.

      And I'm uncomfortable with a multi-million dollar price tag for a bridge over the freeway when I also hear that we can't afford trail signs, trash removal, trail building or maintenance, invasive species removal, and other Park investments that would be a small fraction of this amount.

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      • Brian September 4, 2013 at 8:13 am

        Is a bridge over I-205 a definite pare of the immediate plans, or something that could be potentially be built in the future if GG is a success?
        GG should be supported by all cyclists. It will provide riding opportunities that exist nowhere in Portland, and will be a great for children to ride. The fight over FP has been ongoing for 25 years. It's not like it's a given that there will be more/better riding there if GG is or is not built.

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        • Terry D September 4, 2013 at 9:18 am

          The bridge CAN be built later and is not even in the initial phase one build out.

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      • Terry D September 4, 2013 at 8:16 am

        Why are you fixated on the most expensive portion of the project? That bridge can be built WAY after the park is up, running, and functional. The area currently can be accessed by the 205 bike path at the Gateway transit center and north at Maywood Park. Look at the areal plan for"phase one," there is no expensive bridge....You have to start somewhere.
        http://www.gatewaygreenpdx.org/documents
        Have you ridden there?

        If PBOT gets the $1.7 million to build the Sullivan's Gulch under-crossing then there will also be a connection from the west. The direct connection to the East, which is the overpass being talked about, would be the long range connection. If we are going to spend $5 million on a freeway overpass (a good estimate) then of course it will be on NE 7th first for the 7th/9th avenue bikeway then probably NE 92nd to connect "The 80's" greenway north....then we can complete it by crossing I 84 and connecting it to NE Klickitat and the (built by then) East Portland Greenway system.

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        • Frank Selker September 4, 2013 at 10:27 am

          Fish's office described it as costing "considerably more than $5 million," not $5 million. So we don't know the price, but that it will be a ton of dough. Would you want to sink $10 million, or whatever it costs, into that one bridge vs. all the other bike and parks projects it could fund?

          I think it would be great if they allowed trail construction and provided a bit of infrastructure and a community planning process. Very little spending would be needed, and bam, we could build fun trails.

          But I see a mega-project where a small project would do. Lots of consulting hours, lots of investment, same amount of fun as trail builders could deliver now. And I see it promoted over the years by an area developer and those wanting us out of FP.

          I do see positives to the project, but the whole picture leaves me queasy.

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          • Terry D September 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm

            The most important part of the bridge that is proposed LONG term would be to connect neighborhoods currently blocked by freeways. This is a freeway mitigation bridge. Again, the park can be built without it at first. I bike to that location regularly.

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    • wsbob September 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      "...I do not mountain bike, and I think this is a great idea. ..." Terry D

      Project looks to be basically a good idea. Based on the other current bikeportland article about this project, the crowd-funding approach to funding construction of this park seems to verify substantial interest in the parks' development for off-road biking.

      In transition to a different use, the Rocky Butte land doesn't have a public supported previous designated use that generally disqualifies it from being used for off-road biking.

      Depending upon how the crowd-funding effort for this park project ultimately works out, that source of revenue could possibly represent the means for off-road bike enthusiasts to acquire a much larger parcel of land for off-road biking.

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  • Granpa September 4, 2013 at 7:49 am

    So long as Mt bikers like Grannygear and Honda Charley refer to Mt Biking as "shredding", they (you) will continue to feed the stereotype that Mt. biking is destructive to the natural environment and incompatible with other trail users.

    FWIW I support Gateway Green for its connectivity, for the wetland/stormwater treatment component, for the alternative energy demonstration component and for the bicycle playground component. It is a great idea all around.

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  • Granpa September 4, 2013 at 9:07 am

    The old Sellwood bridge already looks like "erector set" construction. Once it is removed, take it apart (at least to manageable size chunks) and reconstruct it as one of the freeway crossings.

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    • Terry D September 4, 2013 at 9:19 am

      the 7th street overpass.....although I think the city looked into this already, I am not sure about it.

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  • q`Tzal September 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    To those that see Gateway Green VS Forest Park single track access as a "zero sum game" :
    Consider that whatever base of opposition that anti-cycling forces have allied against MTB access to Forest Park will not grow if even if all of Gateway Green's wildest aspirations come true. At best it'll be the same people only screaming more shrill and less rationally.
    OTOH: if Gateway Green comes to fruition it will increase the proportion of the voting constituency that actively have a stake in MTB facilities in Portland. One world class facility will draw so many new people to the sport that eventually the Forest Park anti-MTB people will sound like Flat Earth devotees.

    Increase our minority to a majority and prove them wrong.

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    • Charley September 5, 2013 at 7:43 pm

      HELL YEAH.

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