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City asks for help to fund Sunday Parkways

Posted by on April 20th, 2009 at 12:34 pm

“We know you don’t often receive requests like this from your City agencies. But Sunday Parkways isn’t business as usual.”
— From an email sent out to rally financial support for Sunday Parkways.

The City of Portland is looking to follow up the smashing success of their 2008 Sunday Parkways event — but they’re still about $27,000 short.

Looking to bridge that funding gap, the Transportation Options division (within the Bureau of Transportation) sent out an email last week asking for individuals to help them reach their $200,000 budget goal.

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From the email:

“Looking at significant shortfalls in City budgets, Portland Transportation Options called, emailed, wrote letters, and met with dozens of community partners to try to make Sunday Parkways a reality for 2009. As we face job cuts and reduced services, we had to find creative ways to fund this healthy, community building project.

We need to raise the remaining dollars from you – people who live and work in Portland neighborhoods. Folks who loved Sunday Parkways last year OR want to bring the magic of bike riding, strolling, rolling or skipping along the street in a car-free environment.

Now, we know you don’t often receive requests like this from your City agencies. But Sunday Parkways isn’t business as usual.”

Platinum celebration at City Hall-60.jpg

Linda Ginenthal is program
manager for Sunday Parkways.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Sunday Parkways Program Manager Linda Ginenthal says they’ve raised just about $122,000 in sponsorships so far and that the City of Portland is throwing in another $50,000 that will cover traffic operations, barricades, etc… That leaves $27,000 they hope to raise with this individual appeal.

They’ve set up an online donation account (thanks to ORBike).

Ginenthal told me last week that they’ve got to work hard to raise the funds. She acknowledged that “this is a tough economic climate to raise money,” but she remains confident that Portlanders will step up to “keep the momentum going” for Sunday Parkways.

If they don’t raise the money, they’ll be forced into cost-cutting measures such as increasing the distance between porta-potties along the route, reducing the number of mailings and postcards prior to the event, and scaling back on activities along the route.

The three Sunday Parkways events planned for this summer will be in North (6/21), Northeast (7/19) and Southeast Portland (8/16). More info on how to volunteer and donate is at PortlandOnline.com.

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19 Comments
  • Avatar
    BF April 20, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I like the idea of taking funding gaps to individual donations, but regarding this …

    If they don’t raise the money, they’ll be forced into cost-cutting measures such as increasing the distance between porta-potties along the route, reducing the number of mailings and postcards prior to the event, and scaling back on activities along the route.

    … I say lets take the low budget approach. The focus should just be on getting out onto the streets and riding/walking. Go to the bathroom before you leave, and bring a lunch if you want to stop in a park. No need to make this more complicated.

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    Aaron April 20, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I agree with BF. I loved Sunday Parkways, but this should be the norm, not the exception. In addition to port-o-potties people could pop into a cafe or take the shuttles (I believe there was something like this last year). Keep it simple and focus on pedestrian-streets.
    We already pay a nearly equal share of costs (despite what car-people say) for roads, now we should also pay to have car-free roads?
    I may still make a donation because these people are great and doing wonderful work, but the idea itself just doesn’t make sense to me.
    On a positive note, I offer my heartfelt thanks to Linda, Janice, Timo and the Options team for getting three Sundays together this year.

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    DJ Hurricane April 20, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    I’m with #1.

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    steve April 20, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    “…City of Portland is throwing in another $50,000 that will cover traffic operations, barricades, etc…”

    If all of that is being covered for only 50k, what the hell do they need another 150k for??

    This ridiculousness is why events like this are few and far between. remember the nonsensical numbers being batted around for closing Alberta? Wound up costing almost nothing.

    $200,000 for an event like this is not only wasteful, it is borderline obscene.

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    Scott Mizée April 20, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I agree with BF (Comment#1)! I LOVE Sunday Parkways! Can someone from Options provide a response? Is the Sunday Parkways operating budget posted somewhere?

    Thanks!

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    Linda Ginenthal April 20, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Hi there folks,
    I’m the Program Manager for Sunday Parkways and wanted to get some info out to you on our costs/budget.

    We are running a lean and efficient project here. But it does cost money to make sure that everyone is safe and participants and volunteers can enjoy the day(s).

    Most of the budget goes to two things – volunteers and notifying Sunday Parkways neighbors.

    The largest costs come from managing the 400 volunteers we need for each event. This means recruiting, organizing, and training them. We also have to manage three shifts of volunteers and feed and water them on the day of the events. We have to print t-shirts to identify them on the route and in the parks too.

    We mail to all residents within 1/4 mile of the routes plus put doorhangers out to everyone on the route. This and going to all the community and neighborhood meetings to get people involved is the other big expense.

    We must have emergency medical responders on call, tables and chairs for our activity vendors (which they are also helping to pay for with their vendor fees), fencing for the bike corrals, and certified flaggers so that we can reduce police costs.

    I would love to say that we could do this cheaper, but the reality is that with so many children and families on Sunday Parkways, we just can’t scrimp on our most important elements – great volunteers, notified neighbors, and well managed traffic around the areas.

    If we want to see more Sunday Parkways, the community and especially the bicycling community needs to step up. I’ll do all I can to keep the costs low; we need your financial support and volunteer support too.

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    beth h April 20, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Sunday Parkways is worth the cost.
    It may well be that a show of [financial] support from the community now may help the event to be approved for repeats and possible expansion in future years. Bringing profound change to the transportation landscape will frankly require all sorts of investments — financial, political and personal — above and beyond the norm.

    Sunday Parkways definitely has my support.

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    Mark C April 20, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    The Sunday Parkway event was one of the coolest things my family did last summer. I’m exited there are three events this year. Hopefully, as these things become more commonplace the costs will go down, as others above have suggested. But right now we need to keep the momentum going, so I kicked in some cash, even though it’s a little hard to spare it right now.

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    Schrauf April 20, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Fantastic post Linda. I’m donating right now, and not simply to get the official bandana…

    This event was great last year.

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    steve April 20, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    You need money to “manage” “volunteers”.

    Got it.

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  • […] People links to some articles about just how our cities became so car-centric to begin with; and Bike Portland has the story of how Portland’s cash-strapped government is asking the public to help fund the […]

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    joe April 21, 2009 at 8:07 am

    I just donated but 200K is an absurd number for this. it would be fascinating to see a line item budget but instead we get a note saying we need ambulances on call?!? oh, that and t-shirts for the volunteers. geez.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 21, 2009 at 8:35 am

    just read some of my previous stories on Sunday Parkways.

    last year’s one event cost the City $150,000. Ginenthal said that it was a “revenue neutral”.

    they raised $108,000 in grants and the left over $42,000 was already budgeted staff time.

    This year they are doing three events for $200,000 by comparison.

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    Ash.....Housewares April 21, 2009 at 10:55 am

    For those who think the budget it too big:
    I’m a superintendent for a local contractor. At my current project I have a need to close one block of roadway every so often. For this closure I need six signs: (4)detour/warning (2)road closed. It costs me $90 a day to rent thses six signs. This is only for one road. How many are closed for Parkways? Of course maybe these are provided by the city?
    Contrary to popular belife it does take money to make volunteer events happen. I know this from experience in non-profits and many volunteer hours. From the outside looking in it may seem extravagant or overbudget. Maybe T shirts are a little bit much but then again what if you needed to find a volunteer? Just ask everyone you see?

    Final though: If you’re unhappy or think things should be different…get involved! BE the change, don’t whine about it and then do nothing.

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    Schrauf April 21, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Joe – many of the “extra” logistics are necessary because we are a lawsuit happy society. It’s all our own fault.

    The ambulance needs no explanation, despite being unnecessary exclusive of lawsuit protection.

    The shirts – volunteers need to be clearly marked for many reasons, but including the lawsuit that would arise when an unofficial “volunteer” directs some kid into moving traffic – or whatever. If official volunteers are clearly identifed, at least the City can show they took reasonable efforts to avoid such incidents.

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    joe April 21, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    i did not realize that 200k was for all three days – that is not too bad. days like today make me excited for the parkways…

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    arcellus April 22, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I’m a huge advocate of this event, and I’m glad to have an opportunity to directly support it.

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    Janis April 22, 2009 at 10:23 am

    As one of the staff working on Sunday Parkways, specifically the volunteers, I would like to thank those of you that have donated time and/or money.

    I really appreciate it.

    Cheers, Janis McDonald

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  • […] the huge success of that event, the City faced budget shortfalls and asked the business community and Portland residents to help cover the expenses. In 2009 there were three Sunday Parkways events and this year there are […]

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