Park Light Pole Community Meeting

On May 17th, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) will host an online community question and answer session regarding its Light Pole Safety Project. Attendees should log in just before 7 p.m. on Wednesday to participate in the hour-long event. Bureau representatives will present timeline and lamp post design information before answering questions. This meeting and other significant program changes resulted from public objection to the program’s first iteration, which planned to remove 244 light posts in twelve parks without sufficient funds for replacement.

On February 22nd, PP&R began the removal of potentially dangerous light poles in City parks, including Montavilla and Mount Tabor Parks. Engineers determined that some older cast-concrete light poles in Portland Parks have structural anchoring issues that could pose life and safety hazards to the public. This project had limited funding, with just two parks expected to receive new lights within 16 months. Affected parks would have closed at 10:00 p.m., with Park Rangers frequently visiting at night to compensate for the dangers caused by the poorly illuminated facilities. The maintenance worker’s quick action and the public’s short notice caused anger in the community. Before citizen groups could mobilize, PP&R crews removed lights in Mount Scott Park, Sellwood Park, and Sellwood Riverfront Park.

Within weeks of announcing the Light Pole Safety Project, several community groups asked PP&R leaders and City elected officials to halt the removal and reconsider the process. Among them, Montavilla’s neighborhood coalition Southeast Uplift sent a letter signed by 23 community-based organizations. The letter requested the City find funding to restore all lighting it had or would have removed. It also asked PP&R to postpone further light removal until they procured replacement units and engaged the community in the replacement lighting process.

At the April 5th Portland City Council session, the Mayor and all four Commissioners approved an amended contract with McKinstry Essention for energy savings performance contracting services, including funding for new park lights. PP&R halted light pole removal and has begun a community engagement campaign that includes the Zoom meeting on May 17th. Participation in this meeting is an opportunity for community members to stay informed about this project that impacts the function of the public parks. Additionally, attendance signals to City staff that public engagement is a valued component of this project and others like it. Registration is not required, and organizers invite everyone to attend.

Zoom Meeting Link: 
Meeting ID: 812 1276 5219 | Passcode: 078274

Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the Montavilla Neighborhood Association and 82nd Avenue Business Association boards, both signers of the Southeast Uplift letter.

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