The three main issues this month: 1) the playground at Couch Park is deteriorating 2) there was a stabbing of a homeless individual (adjacent to or within the park boundaries) when the police arrived to take the report the victim was not in the park the report locates the incident at NW 20th and Glisan 3) the park bond/levy 2013
History of Couch park and the current crisis:
In 1973 work began to redesign Couch Park from a flat school yard. The NWDA and the MLC school were active participants in making the park into a community gem. The NWDA was concerned by the closure of the Couch School and the failure to restore the Brown House. The federal funds earmarked for restoring the Brown House were shifted in to the property to create an active public park with three art installations. The school transferred responsibility for the upkeep of the park, the pool and the gym to PP&R in order to best maintain these assets for adjoining community.
The landscape architect Mike Whitemore was inspired by Peope’s Park in Berkeley California and as a young graduate of architectural school volunteered on the project to build his resume in the 1970s. He was also the Land Use chair of the NWDA for many years. The playground structure was conceived as a way to honor the lost Brown House and for the pitch of the playground roof line to mirror the pitch of the roof of the William Temple House.
The entire Couch Park property is deeded to Portland Public Schools yet the park and and any repairs to playground are the responsibility of Portland Parks and Recreation. Right now repairs and equipment within the playground is in a critical boarding on unsafe condition
1) Equipment was removed at Couch Park-images included 2) First Meeting of the Ranger Advisory Meeting-notes from meeting below 3) Talks about the future of Summer Concerts at Wallace and Couch Park-to be addressed at the next S&L meeting 4) Mike Abatte talks with NWNW about the future of parks-previously posted 5) Grant with Friendly House to host the Bike-In movie-grant submitted 6) concerns expressed to the committee over the behavior and increasing size of crowds watching the Swifts 7) research project on history of Couch Park–to be presented on December 14th at MLC School
I will not be able to cover each of these seven park related activities in this single month. There was no need to make park scan reports this month because of the intensity of contacts with park staff in person, on the phone and by e-mail this month.
This last month Couch Park Playground lost two pieces of playground equipment to wood rot. This included the zipline and and half of the monkey bars. At the NWNW board meeting the S&L Committee presented a list of questions. It seems that the replacement cost of the playground is half a million dollars. The questions asked at the NWNW board meeting were covered in a previous posting.
Dr. Tanya March (me) joined the Downtown Park Rangers Advisory Committee the first meeting was in October the next meeting will be in January. There is room for more community members in the committee if you are interested simply reply to this post. It is the role of the advisor to keep PP&R appraised of community needs regarding parks, advise on livability issues and provide input and evaluation. It was noted that various trains resulted in extra support at Couch Park for part of the summer. The dog off leash issue continues to be thorny. The park rangers are ambassadors, the enforcement option they have to ticket off leash dogs is no befitting of this roll, so currently they are only focusing on giving owners warnings. The parks department has been trying to enable rangers to cite dig owners with the type of fines currently only applicable by the staff of animal care and control. The rangers visited Couch Park 65 times in May, 87 times in June, 80 times in July 42 times in August and 55 times in September. From May-September rangers have the total of parks 30 park exclusions from Couch Park, 1o warnings, 18 dog citations (May, June, July only) and 15 “camps” removed from Couch Park. On the upside Parks is doing a better job working with both Police and homeless support groups like Join-more pro active approach. Couch is one of 16 parks in the new program. Couch Park was included because of the 500 “service calls” the year prior to the start of this new ranger program. Next meeting will focus on the private security force that come into the parks at 5 pm.
I also spent sometime researching and cleaning the mosaic tile art on various planters in the park (see picture top of this post). The artist was sculptor Jere Grimm who worked with several hundred community members to create these glass murals on two large planter beds in 1976. The glass was donated by Bullseye Glass of Portland. Teachers and students of Couch-Metropolitan Learning Center, Chapman, Cathedral School, Friendly House and Temple Beth Israel’s religious education school all we active participant artists. ”Students are doing their original pasteups with glass on paper, and each design will be transferred to the planters during construction”, Beth Fagan The Oregonian May 23, 1976, p. 15.
We will be talking about Summer Park Concerts at the next S&L meeting and are actively looking for new volunteers.
Here is an interesting article from the May 23, 1976 issue of the Oregonian on the history of Couch Park: OregonianCouchParkMay23,1976.pdf.
Last week PP&R wrote to (me/Tanya March) and a few others that there was a safety concern at Couch Park and that a fence was going up at part of the playground. I observed that the zipline was chained putting it out of service. Children were climbing on top of the zipline and the wood rot at the footing was causing the entire system to shake. I asked Mike Abbate about the lack of a fence and my concern for tranparency a sign appeared this morning.
The questions prepared by NWDA Safety and Livability over the week and worked on by the Questions for Mike Abbate with Notes with my meeting notes. Thank you to NWDA board member Juliet for getting our question some time at the NWNW Board Meeting.
In early September, just in time for the start of school, Couch Park received a nice sprucing-up from Portland Parks and Recreation – bark chips were added to the off-leash dog area, sucker growth around the park’s trees was removed, and the ivy on the slope was trimmed. The park looked much better after the crews were done. Thanks to everyone one helped.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29. AT 4:30 PM
Register for the inaugural Chapman Swift Family Fun Run; there’s something for everyone! A free 1mile event for elementary age kids, then for everyone else, a 5k run around the gently undulating streets of NW Portland and beautiful Wallace Park. Both runs begin and end at Chapman School, where we will watch the world famous Vaux Swifts elude the hawks and disappear into the chimney for the night.
Mr. Aptekar at Parks and Recreation wrote me that Sylvia Linington passed away last Wednesday after a long illness. Sylvia was a longtime recreation coordinator who retired from MLC Community School in 2008. Her 25+ year career with PP&R included time spent as a dance instructor, and running the programs at her beloved MLC, Ockley Green, Mt. Tabor, Fulton Park, & Montavilla CC.
A gathering to celebrate Sylvia is tentatively planned for the afternoon of Sunday, September 16 at her home in NW Portland. Sylvia’s family has suggested memorial donations to the Friends of Forest Park organization. Sylvia gracious manner will be missed by everyone who knew her. She was a mentor and anchor for me for many years.-Tanya
Event for Wallace Park:
107523 swift family fun run 12 prompts.pdf
Wallace Park had no reports this cycle. I will keep checking on ADA swing, bark chips in the dog park and tags which are all recurring issues.
August 14th: http://www.parkscanpdx.org/observation?id=988
In addition to these park reports I wrote the rangers asking for security at the final Couch Park Concert-aggressive pan handling and heaving drinking has been a concern this year. On the up side the wasps at Couch are not scary. These muddy sections on Couch Park are attracting wasps. Mud daubers are very unlikely to sting, even when thoroughly aroused-so children, dogs and other users are safe.