Neighborhood Parks

Information and news about neighborhood parks can be found here, including summaries of the Safety and Livability Committee’s monthly park inspections.

Report neighborhood park problems to ParkScan.

Lil’ Nature Kids Program Scheduled

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Greetings from the PP&R City Nature, Environmental Education staff! We are excited to share information about our upcoming nature classes in all corners of Portland for children & youth beginning Jan 27th, and continuing in 4-week sessions through late spring!

Lil’ Nature Kids is a popular program for children ages 3-6 where children learn about ecology of the Pacific NW through stories, songs, exploration and play. Our Preschool Naturalists are highly trained and experienced educators who love children and nature alike! Classes are built using a creative curriculum of games, exploration, hiking and imaginative play, and the nature topic for each day is woven throughout subtly but effectively. (Plus we ALWAYS make time to stomp in puddles and look closely at worms and smell flowers along the way!) These classes help children learn how to have fun in any kind of weather, introduce them to new grown-ups who are trust-worthy and caring, and help them gain  knowledge of nature concepts and processes in an engaging way.

 Nature School and Nature Recess classes are for children & youth a bit older who still crave that infectious nature connection. Nature School is a bit more academic than Lil’ Nature Kids and Nature Recess is pretty much what you would expect – a way to give children that experience many of us had growing up, but with smart & educated adults around who can actually interpret the land, the birds, the plants and the animals in the midst of play. Learn more at: Nuts about Nature Flyer Email WIN2014 .

 Classes in YOUR neighborhood this Winter!

Winter Session (Week of Feb 24 – March 21): Tuesdays @ Hoyt Arboretum (Nature School)

 Spring Sessions (Mar 31 – May 23): Classes will be listed on our website in February! Registration will begin March 3rd! Tuesdays @ Hoyt Arboretum (Nature School); Wednesdays @ Hoyt Arboretum (Lil’ Nature Kids)

 Details of our Winter classes can be found on the Environmental Education “Programs for Early Childhood” web page:

Chrissy Larson (a.k.a. Teacher Balsam)

December Parks Report

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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

The playground underwent major adaptations in 1984 (Oscar Newman Defensible Safe Style response to a dumped body of a citizen trying to prevent a drug deal in the park) 1984 was also the year that Couch Park became on of the first Portland parks to prohibit alcohol consumption.
In 2009, 100,000 dollars was spent to bring the playground up to ADA code.  The money was donated by OPUS Northwest to the Portland Parks Foundation.
The original playground benefited from $200,000 of HUD funding for the park.  There is no federal money available this time.
The cost to replace the structure today is estimated by park’s staff as between $360,000-$500,000
Issue #3
PP&R is going for a bond/levy  in 2013-what our goals that this might fund.   The Couch Park playground structure having failed safety checks for two years should be at the top of the list for funding.  Five plus years ago Parks staff indicated that Wallace was an ideal location for a new water splash pad feature (estimated cost 200,000).
The director of parks still has not respond to our list of questions presented at the NWNW board meeting and via e-mail.
The head of security in parks did rapidly respond to question about the homeless stabbing over the weekend by phone.

The S&L teams efforts to keep the bathrooms open at Wallace Park during the Swift WAtch Season was well received. We need to secure this increased access going forward.

Public Event Notification – AIM for the CURE Melanoma Walk 5/11/13

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111037 aim for the cure melanoma walk 13 prompts.pdf

Public Event Notification – Portland Trail Series – multiple dates in May / June, 2013

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November Parks Update

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Jere Grimm Mosic in Couch Park

In brief:

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

In Long:

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.



This is part of the equipment that was removed in October.

Park staff shows up the wood rot being removed.

Parks Update October

Sign put up this morning in Couch Park


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.


09-12 Park Monitoring

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Couch Park Dog ParkIn 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.

Public Event Notice – Chapman Swift Family Fun Run

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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.


Sylvia Linginton site director of the SUN School at MLC for decades has passed.

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Dear Neighbors,

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

Public Event Notification – Friends of Chapman Swift Family Fun Run 9/29/12

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Event for Wallace Park:
107523 swift family fun run 12 prompts.pdf

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