Instead of 2032, npGreenway wants to have the path completed or have funding in the bank by 2020.
The person hired to step up the urgency around this project is Shamus Lynsky. A resident of St. Johns, Lynsky is the former political director of the Oregon Trial Lawyer Association and also served as executive director of the Oregon Consumers League. Far from a newcomer to the politics of bike advocacy, Lynsky served seven years as a member of the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee and he co-authored the ODOT grant that brought new bike lanes and other safety improvements to N Rosa Parks Way back in 2011.
With a new project coordinator at the helm, npGreenway says they will now focus on “building a citizen’s movement for a dedicated trail to connect North Portland neighborhoods.” The scrappy non-profit has spent the last 10 years laying the advocacy groundwork for a path along the Willamette that will connect Kelly Point Park to the Eastbank Esplanade. But, like many bold and ambitious bike-oriented plans in Portland, the project has languished, adrift in a sea of stagnation.
“We’re at that fork in the road… npGreenway needs to grow in order to build that juggernaut that tells the City, Metro, the State, and business owners along the route that we’re willing to work with them but we are going to move it forward.”
— Joe Adamski, npGreenway
To build urgency for the project, npGreenway plans to get much more engaged with the community and policymakers. Board Member Joe Adamski said in an interview this morning “We want to push the City, the State and Metro into doing it sooner because the need is so great,” he said. “We need to get the community power behind it to force the trail completion in a faster timeline … It’s critical to get this going.”
The 2020 completion date for a 10-mile path that remains largely unbuilt might seem ambitious, but much of the legwork and planning for this project is already done. And earlier this year, the Bureau of Transportation’s Bicycle Advisory Committee listed the path as one of their top ten highest priorities. Unfortunately for the Greenway’s fans, PBOT isn’t managing this project. Because it’s considered a “trail” project (I don’t like to use that word because it minimizes a project’s importance as a vital transportation link), the North Portland Greenway is being managed by Portland Parks & Recreation. “So there is that [Parks Bureau] mindset,” Adamski added.
Adamski, also a St. Johns resident and bike advocacy veteran, said the hiring of Lynsky will increase npGreenway’s capacity to do more engagement with the community and policymakers. From here on out, we can expect the group to become much more visible. They’ll share a booth with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance at the upcoming Sunday Parkways in north Portland and they’ll lead a Pedalpalooza ride on the future alignment of the path on June 27th.
For Adamski, the addition of Lynsky marks a key turning point for npGreenway and the project itself. “We’re at that fork in the road. Boards either have to get bigger and stronger and more in-tuned with their mission — or they can wither away into obscurity. npGreenway needs to grow in order to build that juggernaut that tells the City, Metro, the State, and business owners along the route that we’re willing to work with them but we are going to move it forward.”