Tag: Montavilla Park

Picnic Shelter’s Funding on Hold

Last month, crews removed the aging picnic shelter at Montavilla Park and prepared the ground for new grass turf. Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) planned on replacing the structure with a modern 2,000 square foot open-walled shelter. However, a department-wide budgetary shortfall will postpone that work.

Preceding the demolition work, PP&R updated the Montavilla Park Picnic Shelter project webpage announcing the pending deconstruction of the structure while noting the lack of funds for its replacement. Park staff will plant grass seed on the worksite and open the space for general public use in the interim.

PP&R Public Information Officer, Mark Ross, confirmed the project’s indefinite delay. However, he emphasized that staff would continue to look for opportunities to revive this project in future budgets.

Proposed Montavilla Park Picnic Shelter, currently on hold.

Currently, PP&R has a $450 million backlog in unfunded major maintenance needs across the Parks system. Years of budget cuts and an ineffective funding structure reduced the Department’s ability to address needed repairs. “Portland Parks & Recreation has long been underfunded and has an aging but beloved parks system,” explained Ross. “PP&R is focusing our efforts on addressing the most critical repairs and identified service gaps, with equity at the forefront.”

To address the Parks department’s structural funding gaps identified in the 2019 budget process, PP&R staff worked with Portland City Council to develop the Sustainable Future Initiative. It included the directive to seek alternative funding sources to align operations with community expectations while not increasing the City’s budget. In November of 2020, voters approved a 5-year local option levy to maintain neighborhood parks, improve access and safety, provide equitable recreation programs, and proactively care for its natural areas and urban forest.

Levy funds saved many programs jeopardized by the monetary shortfall and kept park services available across the City. However, those funds had no impact on the maintenance backlog. “The Parks Local Option Levy is an operating levy, not a bond for capital projects,” explains Ross. Consequently, many projects are on hold, waiting for funding from other sources. With little money for these projects, PP&R must select projects based on specific criteria that address the most significant need. “These projects are ranked for equity, likelihood of failure, and consequence of failure,” said Ross.

With Montavilla’s decaying shelter demolished and no longer a danger, the project’s position could slip back in the queue based on the PP&R priorities. However, the project is not canceled and remains active. Funding for this project could arrive through several sources at any time. Until then, residents should not anticipate seeing significant changes at Montavilla Park, aside from the construction fences coming down and a little extra grass to enjoy.

Park Picnic Shelter Demolished

Last week, demolition crews removed the picnic shelter and wading pool at Montavilla Park. Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) decommissioned both structures years ago due to health and safety concerns. This recent work clears the way for constructing a new open-air building of similar size. Construction crews expect to begin that project later this Fall

Funds for removal and reconstruction of the picnic shelter only recently became available, thanks to voters approving Measure 26-213 last November. City staff granted permits for this project in October of 2020, but pandemic-related restraints pushed back the project. Even with new levy funds secured earlier this year, PP&R could not schedule work immediately due to the substantial backlog of other work ahead of this one. However, now that work had begun, the site should transform quickly.

The deconstructed picnic shelter’s “H” configuration will be replaced by an 86-foot by 28-foot reticular covering. The new structure will feature a metal roof and have exposed wood rafters. Open gable ends, and a 23-foot high cathedral ceiling will provide ample natural light into the shelter. A stark contrast to the dark low-slung building now demolished. When completed, the area around the new structure will contain more green space and less pavement.

Plan detail courtesy City of Portland

Expect to see construction crews onsite in the following months building the replacement picnic shelter. If PP&R can keep to their schedule, users of the park will have covered space available during the cold and damp winter season.


Photos in this article by Weston Ruter

Replaced Bus Shelter at 82nd and Glisan

A new bus shelter on NE Glisan Street replaces the one damaged last month. On September 25th, a vehicle collided with the previous weather enclosure. At the time, TriMet did not have replacement shelters available.

The new unit is brighter colored than the damaged shelter. Painted blue, it matches colors used on TriMet busses and trains. Mounted only inches from where the original structure met its end, the replacement is a near-exact match for its predecessor.

Unfortunately, TriMet declined to add extra protection to the bus stop. Considering the destruction of the last shelter, a shield from future automotive collisions would be prudent. However, many TriMet riders will be happy to have their cover bus stop back, just in time for the colder seasons.

New Park Picnic Shelter in 2021

Pre-construction work passed another milestone last week for the new picnic shelter at Montavilla Park. Demolition of the old shelter and wading pool will make way for the updated picnic space.

“Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) staff are making good progress in planning and have secured the needed permits. PP&R will be moving the design forward to be ready for bidding, likely in 2021.” Said Mark Ross, a Media Relations representative with Portland Parks & Recreation.

Issued October 7th, Permit 20-160791 outlines the creation of a “new picnic shelter and expansion of asphalt drive north of structure.” This summer, Portland issued two demolition permits for the old shelter and wading pool. PP&R will not replace the former wading pool.

Budgetary constraints on PP&R could challenge the construction of projects like the new picnic shelter. However, Ross believes that funding will be available for this project when construction starts in 2021. “At that time, we hope for the necessary amount of project funding and staff capacity.”

On the ballot this year is Measure 26-213. It seeks to create a five-year tax levy that would provide PP&R with approximately $48 million each year. Funding from Measure 26-213 taxes would not necessarily pay for this upgrade to Montavilla Park but could ensure that additional citywide cuts do not dramatically affect the PP&R budget. Budget cuts could push this project to a later date.

Outdoor spaces are more important than ever when we look at our long-term recovery from COVID-19. Creating usable, safe spaces in the fresh air will help in the immediate future. Additionally, investing in long term improvements to our parks will secure their viability if economic circumstances cause future budgetary shortfalls. With luck, Montavilla residents will be enjoying a new picnic shelter in the warmer months of 2021.

Old shelter and decommissioned wading pool. Image courtesy of Google Maps

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Demolition at Montavilla Park

Two demolition permits for Montavilla Park were recently submitted. Application 20-159559 and 20-159551 seek to demolish the park’s wading pool and picnic structure. Currently, these structures are fenced off.

Mark Ross, Media Relations with Portland Parks & Recreation, explained that this work is in preparation for a replacement picnic structure. “Portland Parks & Recreation must demolish and remove the existing shelter which had become unstable. The bureau plans to replace it with a similarly sized shelter. The wading pool is not functional and cannot be used per State regulations which went into effect some years ago.”

The picnic structure is visible from NE Glisan Street and is adjacent to the children’s play area. This corner of Montavilla Park is dark and uninviting in its current condition. The demolition should clear the way for needed upgrades to the park.


Top photo is courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland, OR.