Portland – A (virtual) ray of sunshine in Portland’s gray weather last week as ground breaking commenced for The Fields Neighborhood Park. This long-delayed Pearl District park is a progressive step towards the advancement of the Portland River District Park System urban renewal project. The 15-year plan, unveiled in 2001, outlined the creation of four distinct urban parks including Jamison Square (2002) and Tanner Springs (2005). The 3.2-acre park is seen as a pivotal link for both pedestrians and cyclists between these two built parks and a future Riverfront Park. The funding of the park, which is slated to cost nearly $4 million, is divided between the Portland Development Commission and Portland Parks and Recreation.
The Fields, located at the North end of the Pearl District, is centered around a large elliptical “yard” bordered by a running/walking path, whose program focuses on informal games/recreation, festivals and large group gatherings for a broad spectrum of users. The peripheral spaces include an off-leash dog area, a children’s area, plenty of seating/socializing areas and a Portland Loo restroom. Per the Portland Parks and Recreation design principles, the landscape and hardscape evoke the natural and cultural history of the site as inspired by river edge industry, the railroad network and references to both streams and forests.
The progress of the park’s construction has been delayed several times since it’s original opening date of 2008. Initially there was a plan to link the park with Centennial Mills, another PDC redevelopment project, but that project eventually fell through. Subsequently, negotiations regarding property acquisitions and environmental remediation approaches delayed the ground breaking further.
There are high spirits amongst Pearl residents as this long awaited park starts construction. The level of frustration has been high as the density within the Pearl neighborhood has grown and outdoor space has been at a premium. Targeted to finish construction by January 2013, this multi-use park embodies years of public input regarding elements needed to make this urban neighborhood livable and a year-round destination for Portland as a whole.
Rendering from City of Portland webiste