Monday, May 27, 2013

Two Plum Park expedition

Two Plum Park
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Today's adventure takes us to tiny Two Plum Park, on NE 7th in an increasingly hip area of NE Portland. The park's origin story (via the city's page about the place):

One day King neighborhood resident Joe Martin got tired of looking at the overgrown vacant lot near his home. The retired Union Pacific Railroad worker went down to Goodwill, bought an old lawn mower, and began cutting down the tall weeds. Neighbors joined him in cleaning out garbage and planting flowers. Soon they began talking about turning the lot into a park.

The timing was fortunate. The Trust for Public Land had recently obtained funding from the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Fund to help create parks in Portland and other cities. PP&R hosted several community meetings inviting residents to help design the park. The neighbors persuaded the city to expand the plans to include two lots. The city paid off the back taxes and took possession of the lots. The park was completed in November 2001; the neighbors named it Two Plum Park after the two plum trees that grow there.

Two Plum Park

It's an unusual story, not least because vacant lots in this part of town almost always become infill development and cause endless angry neighborhood meetings. In any case, the park now features a curving path, some flowers, some play equipment, a historical mural, a hidden geocache, and... well, that's about it for now. The park's about to get a shiny new park bench, though, and because this is an increasingly hip part of town, the bench was funded with a Kickstarter. Seriously. The Oregonian's done a couple of stories about the project, and there's even a slick promotional video about the effort.

Two Plum Park

A community-driven project like this is awesome and inspiring and so forth. No argument there. But because I am a snarky person, I just need to point out that Kickstarter isn't really a full replacement for funding public services adequately. I'm fairly certain there are parks in Rockwood or Lents or Cornelius that could use a new park bench or two, and will never get them this way. And these areas may have additional needs beyond park benches, come to think of it.

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