A Dim Future for Portland Parks

Starting February 22nd, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) will remove dangerous light poles in twelve City parks, including Montavilla Park. Six of the seventeen light poles at 8219 NE Glisan Street have structural anchoring issues that make them unsafe. These units could pose life and safety hazards to the public. Maintenance teams must remove them immediately, even though the City parks bureau lacks sufficient funds to replace these lights. Affected parks will close at 10:00 p.m. nightly, and Park Rangers will visit locations more frequently at night.

PP&R recently identified 243 poorly anchored light poles after conducting a system-wide review of 1,000 units in City parks. Some lamp posts are over 100 years old. Many of the older cast concrete light poles are not anchored to the ground sufficiently to avoid tipping over if pushed with horizontal force. Last June, one of the older light poles fell on two people in Irving Park after a hammock was illegally attached. 

Mt. Tabor Park also contains 81 lights that fall into the unsafe category. Park crews will replace some light poles over the next 16 months, with Irving Park and Mt. Scott Park receiving priority based on an equity analysis. However, bureau staff are exploring opportunities to maximize the use of remaining lights to keep affected parks as bright as possible. 

Montavilla Park’s gravel center road lined with older lamp poles

PP&R will require additional funding to replace all the unsafe light poles in the park system. bureau leadership has reallocated $5 million from the major maintenance fund to remove the potentially hazardous light poles and begin the partial replacement process, pulling money away from other projects. Portland parks require $600 million of repair and replacement work beyond what the bureau budget covers. PP&R Director Adena Long is working to address this challenge through its Sustainable Future Initiative to align equitable service with available funding.

This lighting reduction is one of multiple budget shortfalls leaving Montavilla Park with fewer amenities. In 2021 demolition crews removed a dilapidated picnic shelter that park officials intended to replace with a new structure. However, lack of funds postponed that project, and the site is now just another grassy field. Expect fewer light poles in the two area parks over the next few months. Until PP&R funding increases, do not anticipate the restoration of the removed lights or shelter at Montavilla Park.

Twelve City parks with light pole removal planned

  • Colonel Summers Park will have 12 of 16 light poles removed
  • Irving Park will have 73 of 78 light poles removed
  • Ladd Circle Park will have 4 of 20 light poles removed
  • Lair Hill Park will have 5 of 9 light poles removed
  • Montavilla Park will have 6 of 17 light poles removed
  • Mt. Scott Park will have 18 of 22 light poles removed
  • Mt. Tabor Park will have 81 of 216 light poles removed
  • Rose City Golf Course will have 1 of 1 light poles removed
  • Sellwood Park will have 17 of 23 light poles removed
  • Sellwood Riverfront Park will have 14 of 17 light poles removed
  • Woodstock Park will have 8 of 25 light poles removed
  • Wallace Park will have 4 of 6 light poles removed

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