Portland Marathon donates $4K to help clean up downtown parks

Portland Marathon donates $4K to help clean up downtown parks
Photo courtesy David Nguyen / Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland, OR

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Marathon will help foot the bill for restoring two downtown parks that were damaged by Occupy Portland protesters.

Les Smith and Mamie Wheeler with the Portland Marathon presented the city with a $4,000 check on Wednesday.

The money will be used to repair Lownsdale and Chapman Squares. The parks are near the start and finish locations of the annual marathon and Smith said it's important to restore them to their former beauty.

City parks officials estimate the total damage to the parks is $85,000. Portland Parks & Recreation released the following details on the donation from the Portland Marathon and the restoration project:

The Portland Marathon has committed $4,000 toward restoring Lownsdale and Chapman Squares in downtown Portland. This gift will go to the Restore our Historic Squares Fund, created to help restore and reinvigorate two of the most historically and culturally significant parks in Portland.
Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) and our valued nonprofit partner, the Portland Parks Foundation, collaborated to create the Restore our Historic Squares Fund. The Foundation is managing the fund, which gives residents and businesses a chance to contribute to the cost of restoring and invigorating Chapman and Lownsdale Squares, acquired in the 1850s.
The Portland Marathon joins Portland-based Umpqua Bank, which donated $25,000 to the fund, and more than 130 private citizens who have so far donated more than $8,000 to the Portland Parks Foundation to revitalize Chapman and Lownsdale Squares. These historic parks, the first in PP&R’s system, sustained significant damage to turf, trees, and facilities during the recent Occupy Portland protests.

“The Portland Marathon is a terrific community partner,” said Portland Parks Commissioner Nick Fish. “Portland is very fortunate to have such generous support.”

“It’s clear how much Portlanders love these parks, and want them restored to greatness,” said Portland Parks Foundation executive director, Nick Hardigg. “We hope these gifts will inspire other people to give – we still have much more to raise in order to cover the damage that has occurred.”

After careful surveys by PP&R staff and contractors, the working estimate for necessary work and repairs is $85,850. This figure is the best estimate at present.

An additional $45,000 in PP&R labor and material costs was incurred during the duration of camping in Chapman and Lownsdale Squares. These costs were specifically related to managing the encampments and the resulting clean-up efforts. Occupy Portland protestors camped out at the parks – which are not designed for camping or long-term use – for a period of about six weeks, beginning in October 2011. 

City professional staff in ecology, turf, and structural engineering assessed the damages and needs for repairs. Arborists, plumbing contractors, electricians, risk management employees, and other experts also evaluated the condition of the downtown squares. Long-term impacts on trees will not be known until this spring or later. 

Now that Portland Parks & Recreation has a preliminary working estimate, staff will create a timeline for the restoration project. More information on the timeline will come as it becomes available.

Wherever possible, PP&R will leverage the work of volunteers and donated professional services to restore the squares.