1000 Friends Supports Community Vision for Portland's Colwood Park

1000 Friends Executive Director Jason Miner testified September 25 before the Portland City Council in support of a proposal to transform much of the Colwood Golf Course into a park, developed by and for members of the local community.

Colwood's owners would like to close the golf course and rezone it for two purposes: jobs development on 48 acres in the north of the property, and a future park on the southern 90 acres. This proposal, developed with the Trust for Public Land, is a great improvement from a failed 2008 proposal that would have turned almost all of the site into industrial development.

1000 Friends supports the creation of a great community asset at Colwood, but we believe the future of the park should be driven by local residents and businesses from the Cully neighborhood, which has a severe deficit of local parks. Locals are already working to create a vision for Cully Park nearby, and this unique coalition approach shows great promise for the Colwood site, too.

Here is Miner's full testimony:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak about the rezoning of Colwood today.  My name is Jason Miner and I am the executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon.  We are a non-profit organization with 2500 members.  We work around the state to promote healthy, livable communities; protect farms and natural resources; and empower Oregonians to participate in shaping their communities’ future.

1000 Friends of Oregon has signed on to a letter supported by a diverse coalition of organizations supporting the re-purposing of Colwood National Golf Course through rezoning and a Comprehensive Map Plan Change.  We are in support of the proposal in front of you.

We’d also like to thank the Trust for Public Land for shepherding the land use and zoning approvals that are necessary to accomplish the vision of a park on the southern parcel and land brought in to an industrial sanctuary on the northern parcel. We are grateful for their leadership and vision thus far.

In the ongoing work to create a great park and community asset on the southern Colwood parcel, we ask that the City continue to work with the 1-Park 1-Model Coalition to adapt the Let Us Build Cully Park model to the Colwood site, developing a public-private partnership for the acquisition, design, and construction of Colwood Park.

Residential neighborhoods inside Portland’s urban growth boundary are constantly changing, and one of the results of good planning is we have created a desirable place to live.  But the City’s investment in the infrastructure of a neighborhood, and infrastructure means parks as much as it means sidewalks or streets, can support the fabric of a neighborhood by including the people who currently live there, or risk undermining that neighborhood fabric.   Further, whether it is a mural or a park, people take better care something if they make it themselves.

Let’s extend the Cully Park model to Colwood. Let Colwood Park be built by the people who live nearby, for their benefit and for the benefit of the City. 

In an era in which we are re-examining how to pay for everything from sidewalks to parks – public amenities funded by now-declining revenue streams –we need to try this model, and not just on a small scale.  There is a willing coalition stepping up to share human capital – the true riches of a city – and to attract new resources.

Committing to a community-planned future for Colwood Park is an opportunity in front of you to take a new step in planning, in governance, and in community inclusion.  This could be a substantial step in finding ways to make infrastructure investments that improve a neighborhood without displacing the people who live there.  Let’s take the next step together.

To learn more about this proposal, click here. (pdf)