Tag: MT Tabor Park

10th Annual Montavilla Jazz Festival

Tonight, supporters of the music community will gather for the 10th Annual Montavilla Jazz Festival Season Reveal Fundraiser at two venues. Proceeds from the event will help fund this milestone jazz festival. Attendees will begin inside Flattop & Salamander at 6:00 p.m. and conclude the event at 9 p.m., two blocks away inside Strum PDX. The festivities will include live jazz, soul food, and musical “surprises” to celebrate a decade of hi-lighting Portland’s rich musical community.

Starting Monday, May 22nd, tickets will go on sale for the yearly three-day musical event. This season’s Montavilla Jazz Festival spans five venues and features 11 concerts showcasing Portland’s renowned jazz musicians. The festival begins with a world premiere of Views of an Urban Volcano, a three-part commission inspired by Portland’s Mt. Tabor. That project features a 12-member Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble and includes new works influenced by a series of community input events. Performances run from September 1st through the 3rd, with two concerts live-streamed for those who can not attend in person. Montavilla Jazz leaders will announce the full lineup on Saturday, May 20th, at Montavilla Jazz’s Season Reveal Fundraiser. Event organizers will post more information about the event on montavillajazz.org starting Monday.

Alan Jones – Photo by Kathryn Elsesser and provided courtesy Montavilla Jazz.

September’s Montavilla Jazz Venues include:
Mt. Tabor Park Caldera Amphitheater
Alberta Rose Theatre (3000 NE Alberta Street)
Portland Metro Arts (9003 SE Stark Street) – Live Streamed and in-person
The 1905 (830 N Shaver Street) – Live Streamed and in-person

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:  https://us06web.zoom.us/j/81212765219?pwd=Sk04a1pjcFR0V0ZnL0lFMVA2QzdZQT09 
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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A New Approach to Replacing Dangerous Park Lights

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. This update halts the removal of older lamp posts that inspectors deemed hazardous earlier this year. Starting February 22nd, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) began removing dangerous light poles in twelve City parks without funding to replace the majority of lights. Six of the seventeen light poles at Montavilla Park have structural anchoring issues that make them potentially unsafe. Those units were slated for removal, and the dimly lit park would close at 10 p.m. for safety. However, the nearly 100-year-old light poles will remain in place until replacement units are purchased, minimizing the impact of this work on parkgoers.

Although many residents and community groups appreciate the pivot by PP&R, testifiers at City Council expressed further concern over the lack of public involvement. Several residents spoke about the need for historic design consideration when replacing lights, as Mt. Tabor Park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Dan Ryan, the Commissioner in charge of PP&R, said that Portland’s Historic Landmarks Commission would review the light poles’ design. However, one member of the public, speaking on the record, noted that Historic Landmarks Commission review does not replace the public’s participation in light pole selection. Commissioner Ryan indicated that he would have PP&R staff engage in public conversations on this issue at an unspecified future date.

Slide from Heather Flint Chatto Director of Portland Main Streets Design Initiative testimony

Another Portland City Council testifier echoed the public engagement concerns and added a request to consider lighting effects on wildlife, noting that some light-emitting diodes (LED) can negatively affect animals. The same person also expressed community interest in retaining the removed lights for historical preservation instead of selling or donating them. Commissioner Ryan assured the public that this emergency work is evolving, and he intends to protect the public by replacing the failing poles while maintaining adequate park lighting.

Slide from Heather Flint Chatto Director of Portland Main Streets Design Initiative testimony

Although Montavilla Park and adjacent parks retained all light poles, crews had already removed dangerous units at Irving Park, Mt. Scott Park, Sellwood Park, and Sellwood Riverfront Park. Once the new light poles are available, PP&R will replace light poles in those four parks first. Until then, the City will explore temporary lighting options. After crews restore light poles in those four parks, the bureau will announce plans for removal and quick replacement of light poles in other affected parks, including Montavilla Park. Light pole fabrication will take six months, and design review could slow down that process. However, this new slower plan will prevent more parks from going dark and ensure a solution that maintains nighttime visibility in Portland’s natural areas.

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New Mt Tabor Roadway and Path

Last week, road crews reopened a freshly paved and curbed two-block segment of SE 64th Avenue next to the Mt. Tabor Maintenance Facility. This work builds the base infrastructure for a new multi-use pedestrian and bike path from SE Division Street to the southwest corner of Mt. Tabor Park. The street improvements and path are the only publicly accessible portion of the Mt. Tabor Central Maintenance Yard Project currently under construction.

Later this summer, cement masons and landscapers will create 500 feet of multimodal pathway between SE 64th Avenue at Sherman Street and SE Division Street. When opened, this pathway will provide a much-needed shortcut to the public recreation space for those living south of the park. However, the new rainwater management on this street will also improve conditions. An array of unlined stormwater planters will collect and absorb rainfall as it runs downhill, with overflow captured by the city’s underground system. Water runoff from Mt Tabor is significant, and this update will fight erosion on this sloped topography. Unfortunately, the project did not create sidewalks on the west edge of SE 64th Avenue, and the asphalt surface ends in a gravel shoulder.

PP&R site plan

Over a year ago, crews began construction at the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) property to modernize the central maintenance facility at Mt Tabor Park. The improvements stemmed from a 2014 patchwork of funding that implemented plans from 2009. The Mt Tabor Yard is the primary dispatch point for PP&R maintenance and nursery services across Portland, with over 140 maintenance employees working from this location. The street improvements and pathway are minor compared to the overall project but will immediately impact park access. Once the new maintenance yard is fully operational, city crews should be more efficient in their efforts to keep the park system functioning.

PP&R illustration from the Mt Tabor Central Maintenance Yard & Nursery Master Plan

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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.

Update: PP&R will now replace all lights and halt removal until new lights are available.

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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Free Public Events Focused on Mt. Tabor Park

Beginning in March, Montavilla Jazz and Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble (PJCE) will host informative events revealing Mt. Tabor’s history in relationship to marginalized communities and examining its current influence. Three composers will use these events to create new musical works performed at the 2023 Montavilla Jazz Festival’s free public concert held in Mt. Tabor Park on September 1st, 2023. The three-part series is titled Views of an Urban Volcano and is free to attend with advanced registration.

Views of an Urban Volcano will take place Sunday, March 5th, at 2 p.m. at the Oregon Historical Society, Saturday, March 18th, at 4 p.m. at Taborspace’s Copeland Commons, and Saturday, April 15th, at 10:30 a.m. in Mt. Tabor Park. The composers, currently being selected through a panel review process, will attend each event to build a shared understanding of this iconic park’s role in the city. They will use those experiences to craft musical pieces that the 12-member PJCE group performs at the 10th Annual Montavilla Jazz Festival. Community participation is needed to feed this creative process. The organizers encourage people to register now to reserve free tickets to the events.

Views of an Urban Volcano: A discussion on Mt. Tabor Park
March 5th, 2023, 2–3:30 pm at Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue

The event features a panel discussion on the history and impacts of Mt. Tabor Park from the perspectives of Portland’s Chinese, Black, and Indigenous communities from 1896–2020. Light refreshments will be available. Panelists include Hap Pritchard, Board Member, Friends of Mt. Tabor Park; David Harrelson, Cultural Resources Department manager and member of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde; Darrell Millner, Professor Emeritus of Black Studies at Portland State University; and Dr. Marie Wong, Professor Emerita, Seattle University Institute of Public Service, Asian Studies, and Public Affairs.

Views of an Urban Volcano: Community Forum
March 18th, 2023, 4–5 pm at Taborspace’s Copeland Commons
5441 SE Belmont Street

An open forum for lovers of Mt. Tabor Park to share their own stories about its significance with the composers. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the selected composers and project leads and contribute to the community-driven creative process.

Views of an Urban Volcano: Guided Tour of Mt. Tabor Park
April 15, 2023, at 10:30 am at Mt. Tabor Park Visitor Center
SE Salmon Way and SE Park Drive

Led by Friends of Mt Tabor Park, this 90-minute guided tour of the park will begin at the Mt. Tabor Visitor Center and highlight historical and cultural points of interest and the park’s impressive vistas. Participants should dress for the weather and bring their questions.

Views of an Urban Volcano is presented in partnership with Friends of Mt. Tabor Park and the Oregon Historical Society with support from Oregon Cultural Trust and Regional Arts and Culture Council.