'It's got a little bit of everything'

'It's got a little bit of everything'
Photo by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com Producer/Reporter.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Hot summer days are coming - trust us, they are - and lots of folks will be headed to local pools to cool off, including the one at this week's featured park.

Every Friday we put the spotlight on a local park and this week we headed to Creston Park, a 14.41-acre greenspace at Southeast 44th Avenue and Powell Boulevard, right next to Creston Elementary School.

The park has been around since 1920 and some of its amenities include an off-leash area for dogs, picnic areas, a playground and a popular pool where lots of kids have learned to swim over the years.

Creston Park is kid friendly and at any given time you'll see children there playing, swimming, participating in organized activities and learning about the world around them. It's also one of the city's parks that has a free lunch program.

We took a walk around the park with neighborhood resident Colleen Smith. She has a 7-year-old boy and spends a lot of time there, so she gave us a quick tour.

"Besides the playground up here," she said, pointing to the main playground area, "there's a playground behind the school as well. So if one of them has a lot of kids or the kids are bigger, we can take smaller children to the other park."

And of course Smith said the pool, which just opened recently, is a favorite.

"We did lessons last week because the pools offer a free week of lessons the first week they're open," Smith said. "But because the weather is so unpredictable, I'm going to wait a couple more sessions before I sign him up for more lessons."

Still, even when it rains you'll see kids in the pool. When we stopped by the clouds were gray and a steady drizzle was coming down. Yet the pool was buzzing with activity.

"They say unless there's lightning and thunder, they open the pool," Smith said.

Parents should note that the pool will be closed on Monday July 4 for the holiday.

The park is also a great place for adults who just want to enjoy a little bit of nature or perhaps work on a tan when the sun does come out.

"If you want you could just sit out this way," Smith told us, pointing towards an open expanse of grass at the park, "and get as much sun as you want. Or you can go to the shaded areas."

The only downside we noticed at the park was the tennis court, which has become overgrown and is unusable. We talked to Jeff Milkes, South Services Manager for Portland Parks & Recreation, to find out what was going on with the court and he told us it has been decommissioned. Basically the tennis court needed some work and the money wasn't there.

"It was just too expensive for us to repair," he said. "My plan is to just pull it (the court) out but we haven't made decisions on what to do with it yet."

There is also an empty wading pool at Creston Park. Portland Parks & Recreation has closed all wading pools as mandated by the state for health and safety reasons.

While the cost to retrofit the wading pools to meet the state's standards are prohibitive, there are plans to create spray features instead. Milkes said Creston Park is on the list to eventually be converted to what he called a 'splash park.' But that could take a while and it's not a for sure thing.

"Unfortunately it's not funded yet," Milkes explained. "That may be something that comes about in a future bond."