“We are working to ensure that the courtyard is enjoyed as it was always intended.”
— Carrie Belding, Metro
Portlander Nora Lehmann was shocked during a recent walk to see cars parked in what was usually a serene courtyard near the corner of North Vancouver and Fremont.
“I’m so upset,” she posted to Twitter. “The beautifully landscaped plaza at the One North building on Williams has apparently been turned into a parking lot?! WTAF is there nowhere in this town where cars don’t ruin everything?!”
(Photos: Nora Lehmann)
Eagle-eyed sleuths Iain Mackenzie (@maccoinnich) and others who follow Nora quickly pointed out that that particular lot was funded with a Metro “Nature in Neighborhood” grant under specific requirements that it be set aside as a community gathering space — not as a place to park cars. According to a description of the $420,313 grant award on Metro’s website, the courtyard is supposed to give people an, “opportunity to experience urban ecology close to home.” “At the One North Community Courtyard, a new public plaza centrally located in a dense, urban area will offer a neighborhood gathering place surrounded by natural plantings,” it says.
I’ve visited the site a few times since seeing Nora’s post and haven’t seen cars parked there.
Officials from Metro and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT owns the public easement for the courtyard) have also visited the site, according to Carrie Belding with Metro Parks and Nature Communications.
In an email to BikePortland, Belding said, “We are discussing the issue both internally and with PBOT and are working to ensure that the courtyard is enjoyed as it was always intended. We hope to be able to provide further updates this week.” Asked if business owners had been told parking is not allowed, Belding said that they are still coordinating those contacts.
UPDATE, 11/4: Metro worked with PBOT to contact the business and building owners to make sure folks to park in the plaza any more. The image below from Metro shows new signs that are now placed in the plaza: