Looks like Mayor Hales is willing to put money where his mouth is when it comes to addressing Portland’s extreme lack of trail riding opportunities.
At a budget work session yesterday Mayor Charlie Hales officially recommended funding the $350,000 Off-Road Cycling Master Plan. The plan is poised to get started soon because the mayor has requested adding the expenditure to the 2014-2015 budget. Commissioner Nick Fish also support the mayor’s request.
Yesterday’s budget negotiations were part of the City’s annual spring Budget Monitoring Process, also known as the “spring bump.” This is when city bureaus and the budget office analyze spending and tweak the existing budget to align with actual spending. Items that typically get funded in the spring bump include one-off expenses and urgent or unanticipated needs. The city’s fiscal year ends June 30th, so any new projects green-lighted in the spring budget monitoring process are meant to be started right away. (The money can be spent immediately, but the projects do not have to be completed within the fiscal year.)
In the words of one source at City Hall, when a project gets added in the spring budget monitoring process, “It sends a message externally that we’re serious and internally to get started as quickly as possible.”
This is good news for the Off-Road Cycling Plan, which Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz has said must be completed before her bureau will even consider allowing cycling in parks and natural areas.
Mayor Hales’ spokesman Dana Haynes told us yesterday that the mayor wants the Parks bureau to “get started ASAP” on the plan
Here’s more from Haynes about Mayor Hales’ opinion on the issue:
“We are proud of the city’s reputation as a bike town. But we have not paid enough attention to off-road cycling. And we can’t ask people to climb in their cars and drive for an hour to recreate outside of the city. We need to identify the best appropriate places inside the city for mountain biking.”
Commissioner Nick Fish, who leads the Bureau of Environmental Services and who was a co-signer on the March 2nd memo that prohibited bicycling in River View, told us he also supports, “fast-tracking the study.”
This budget request needs just three votes on Council to be added to the budget. The spring bump requests will be made official when City Council adopts them on May 6th.
We are still trying to determine if Fritz or Commissioner Saltzman or Novick will support the mayor’s proposal. Sources say Fritz does not support it, but we are waiting to hear back from her office and the others. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: This story initially reported that Commissioner Fritz supported the mayor’s request. We are still trying to confirm her decision.
UPDATE, 10:49 am: Commissioner Saltzman also supports this ask, so there is now a majority to support it (with Hales and Fish). Here’s the statement from Saltzman’s Policy Director Matt Grumm: “Dan enthusiastically supports the idea of a city wide off road cycle master plan and however Council decides to fund it, he will be there to support that effort.”
UPDATE: 1:05 pm: Commissioner Steve Novick’s office has confirmed that he too supports the mayor’s request and will support adding the Cycling Plan into the spring budget adjustment.