The Grant Bowl
From: Geoff Hyde
I was contacted on Friday, February 12, by Lisa Turpel regarding getting on the agenda of our February 23, meeting regarding an update on the Grant Fields changes. I informed her that our newsletter had already gone out and that I felt an issue as important as this one is to our neighborhood needed advance notice. The way our neighborhood is structured we do not have another General Meeting until May. She also mentioned that Eileen Argentina from PP&R would be taking the lead on this, so I asked to meet with her so I could give our Board an update on the project at our meeting February 23. Arrangements were made for me to meet with Eileen and Lisa on February 18.
At the meeting at PP&R offices on February 18, I was handed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Parks District, the Portland School District and Friends of Grant Athletics. This meeting was supposed to be an update but instead it was a report of a near fait accompli. Last year Commissioner Fish held a meeting of interested parties in the Grant Fields proposal and the last word was that more information needed to be considered. I have had no further information from the Commissioner's office since then. By the end of the meeting with Lisa and Eileen, it was clear that the intention is to go forward before our May meeting and that taking this proposal to the City Council is being considered "optional".
The Commissioners office never did reach out to the GPNA for input or information, yet it appears there were continuing conversations with the Friends group, PPS and PP&R. Many people in the neighborhood have serious reservations on many parts of the proposal that have never been addressed. They include the fact that much of the "Public Process" was preformed by the advocates and not the City. The proposal originally submitted to the GPNA and in public meetings is not the proposal we see today. Health, safety and livability concerns have never been properly addressed in a public forum. People in the neighborhood have done extensive research but have not had the venue, opportunity or even the knowledge of who the decision makers were and on what facts they had based their decisions.
I was disappointed to see on the Commissioner's web site today that he had sponsored a "Round Table" on the Portland Public Schools Great Fields Initiative which did not include the people most impacted by these changes in the Grant Neighborhood. I am disappointed that opponents to the artificial turf have never had a chance to present their research to the decision makers. I am disappointed that the NA has been left out of the loop several times over the past five years. I am disappointed that the public process dictated by the City, the Park District and PPS guidelines has been, in a large part, ignored. I am disappointed that all facts are not being considered and entered into the record, wherever that may be.
I know it is short notice but since I only found out about this memorandum last week and I get the distinct feeling that this will be pressed forward before our next meeting, with or without Council approval, I request that Commissioner Fish attend our meeting, tomorrow night at 7:00pm at the Grant Park Church, 2728 NE 34th Ave. Portland, OR 97212, where he can hopefully illuminate how we got to this point.
In the 'Hood
This site: GrantPark-NA.org, is maintained by the Grant Park Neighborhood Association, Portland, OR.