PORTLAND, Ore. - Springtime is here and before you know it summer will be too, so what better time to get out and explore your local parks?
There are dozens upon dozens of parks in Portland - some of them are quite well known, others you may have never heard of and then there are those that just kind of fade into the landscape.
Every Friday we'll be putting the spotlight on one of the city's parks to either remind you how great your favorite neighborhood park is or to introduce you to some of the public greenspaces you may not know about.
This week we're taking a look at Arbor Lodge Park - an 8.4-acre park situated among a residential neighborhood in North Portland.
Arbor Lodge Park has been around since 1940 and features an unfenced off-leash dog area that is popular with local residents.
"Come here around 5 or 6 o'clock and you'll see lots of people with their dogs," one neighborhood resident told us when we stopped by to take photos.
There are also play structures for the kids, both a soccer and softball field, and a tennis court. You'll even find horseshoe pits at the park.
Now Arbor Lodge Park is admittedly not one of the city's premier parks and its age is evident in some areas (like the bleachers, which have definitely seen better days). But the park does have a certain old school charm that is appealing.
Arbor Lodge Park is also slated to become home to a kids' play area that is specially designed to give both children with and without disabilities the chance to play together. It's part of a grassroots project called Harper's Playground that was launched last year by the parents of 5-year-old Harper Goldberg.
Harper has a rare condition called Emanuel Syndrome, which limits her mobility, but she loves spending time at Arbor Lodge Park. Her family even celebrates her birthday there every year.
Harper longs to play with the other kids at the park and that gave her parents an idea - why not try to get playground equipment installed at the park that would allow her to do just that?
"The most important thing would be that anyone that has a wheelchair or mobility problem could get onto anything in the playground," Harper's father, Cody Goldberg, told us. "So it creates inclusiveness, not separation."
Goldberg said he and his wife first contacted Portland Parks and Recreation to see what could be done. He said they were told that while the city did not have the money for the project, the Goldbergs could propose a plan to their neighborhood association. The Goldbergs did just that, the association voted to support their idea and then the non-profit Harper's Playground was born.
More Links for Harper's Playground
Harper's parents are working hard to raise the $200,000 they estimate the project will cost. Goldberg said they've raised nearly half of the money so far and are expecting a big donation from a foundation that promised to give them $50,000 once they officially reach the $100,000 mark.
The Portland Timbers are lending a hand as well. Harper's Playground is one of several local non-profits that were selected to receive a $5,000 grant from the Portland Timbers Community Fund. The Goldberg family will be at the Timbers home match on April 30 at JELD-WEN Field, along with the other grant recipients.
"We are pleased to carry on the Timbers' legacy of philanthropy to great local causes through grants like these," Merritt Paulson, president of the Timbers, said in a news release announcing the grant awards. "One of our core principles is our commitment to giving back to the community."
The Timbers Army, the team's supporter/fan group, is helping out too. They are selling co-branded scarves and donating 100 percent of the proceeds to Harper's Playground. We checked with the Timbers Army and they told us they just ordered more scarves due to demand, so they are well-stocked.
The Goldbergs hope to break ground this summer in time for their daughter's birthday and their hard work and efforts could be the start of something bigger. Goldberg said if they achieve success in getting an inclusive playground at Arbor Lodge Park, they might set their sights on other parks, and perhaps even schools.