Council approves funding boost for parks, trails

Posted by on March 13th, 2008 at 7:16 am

Bikes at Earth Day

The Springwater Corridor Trail
is a Portland Parks facility.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Yesterday, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to adopt a new “system development charge” (SDC) package that will raise roughly $240 million for parks, bike/ped trails, and natural areas over the next 12 years.

SDCs are one-time fees assessed on new development (commercial and residential) to cover a portion of the cost required to build specific types of public infrastructure required as a result of the development.

Local parks advocates laud the support for this financing package and say the money is needed to help implement their Parks 2020 Vision.

Bike advocates also pushed hard for these Parks SDCs and the result is that 7.6% of the funds generated will go toward trails.

Many trails in Portland (like the Springwater Corridor Trail) that are managed by the Parks Bureau, are not just popular for recreational riding, but they provide invaluable connections in the city’s bikeway and have a major transportation component (stay tuned for an interesting look at bike commuter counts on off-street trails).

Local parks advocates estimate that the new SDCs package will help them purchase approximately 15 to 22 miles of new trailway and that the new funds will also help them leverage state and federal dollars to acquire and develop hundreds of acres of additional parkland and many more trail miles.

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Way to go Portland City Council! Thanks for proving that you are thinking about the future livability of Portland!


That goes for you Bike Advocates who \”pushed hard\” too!

Way to Go!


This is great. 7.6% of $240M is $18.24M, which, if sufficient for 15 – 22 miles of trail, indicates that trailness costs between $830,000 and $1.216M per mile. A quick survey of costs on the web suggests that this is consistent with costs incurred elsewhere in the country. However, in some other locales federal (and other) matching funds were obtained which doubled the reach of the original funds. Can we do that here? By calling this a parks function rather than a transportation function have we foregone the possibility of matching funds?

As a person who is involved in recreation for kids in our parks, my main beef with the parks department is that they have not advocated sufficiently for their ongoing mission. This is technically off-topic, because the 2020 plan is a capital plan, but what about ongoing maintenance, support, and operation? How will we use the capital improvements we build? Will we use them to create a separation between the haves and the have nots, like a concert hall or golf course? PP&R has resorted to user fees in every area where they can. We now have kindergarteners who want to learn soccer and tee ball paying field rental in disadvantaged areas of town. This is stupid. PP&R should mow, fertilize, and irrigate sports fields for the general public, perhaps especially youth, for recreation, even if they arrive at the park in a group.

Trails will not be far behind if we\’re not careful. I don\’t know how they\’ll do it, but they\’ll enact fees of some kind, or limit hours of use, or something.

In a community that embraces higher density development for all its benefits, we also need places and activities that give us breathing room. The capital improvements are great, if they are accompanied by a civic commitment to maintenance, support, and operation.

Please fund parks expenses, not just capital.