project backer Linda Robinson
outside City Council
Chambers this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus)
The Gateway Green project has taken a major step forward.
Friends of Gateway Green — the non-profit group working to convert an ODOT-owned, 35-acre parcel between I-205 and I-84 into a bicycle recreation area — has announced that Governor Kulongoski has selected the project to be part of the Oregon Solutions program.
Oregon Solutions is a process that grew out of Oregon’s Sustainability Act of 2001. Projects under this umbrella are seen as having a high priority for the state and they are selected because they have a strong sustainability component and bring together a wide range of community stakeholders. Oregon Solutions helps the Gateway Green project in many important ways — from bringing its staff resources (to help find funding, etc…) to being a heavyweight facilitator to help navigate the extremely complicated route from vacant land to public recreation mecca.
The Governor’s selection of Gateway Green is also important because it comes with the naming of two “conveners” for the project; Bike Gallery owner and Oregon State Parks commissioner Jay Graves and Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder. The role of conveners to be high-profile, public champions of the project.
In a letter addressed to Friends of Gateway Green Director Linda Robinson, project visionary Ted Gilbert, ODOT Region 1 Director Jason Tell, Portland Parks Director Zari Santner, Portland Commissioner Nick Fish, and others, Governor Kulongoski wrote:
“I feel this project supports Oregon’s Sustainable Community Objectives, encompassing environmental, economic, and community objectives…
The Oregon Solutions approach will help bring together potential partners in a neutral and collaborative way to address issues and opportunities. By integrating and leveraging investments, the project has the potential to strengthen the ties between the public, private and civic sectors in your community.”
Director of Friends of Gateway Green, Linda Robinson, says this is a major step for the project. “We see this as a really big step forward in the process of making this a reality. Oregon solutions are very selective in what they choose, they don’t want the Governor to have a failure.”
Robinson also explained to us that the outcome of the Oregon Solutions process will be a “Declaration of Cooperation” between Portland Parks, Metro, and other agencies for the development, operation, and maintenance of the Gateway Green project. This is important because this intergovernmental agreement was one of several steps ODOT has required before they agree to hand over the land.
Robinson had already planned to present an update on the project today at City Council today. In other news, her group has finally acquired a $45,000 grant for the Gateway Green project from the City as part of one of seven projects funded in the East Portland Action Plan adopted by Council earlier this year.
Robinson says half of that money will go toward matching funds needed to begin the Oregon Solutions process, and the rest will be used to hire a consultant to begin the myriad of studies required of the project by ODOT.
As he announced the Oregon Solutions news at City Council this morning, Portland Parks Commissioner Nick Fish said “This is a very happy day” and he also spoke of Parks’ commitment to creating more off-road riding opportunities in Portland. “Gateway Green could be the mother of all off-road riding areas in the Portland region”.
Fish also addressed Ted Gilbert and Linda Robinson directly, saying “Congraulations, we’re now officially launched.”