Voters could decide how to pay for millions in repairs to Portland parks

Voters could decide how to pay for millions in repairs to Portland parks »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. - City Commissioner Amanda Fritz wants voters to decide about how to raise the $68 million dollars the city needs to keep up Portland's parks, playgrounds and outdoor spaces.  On Thursday, she’ll ask City Council to kick a new bond measure to voters for the November election.

The new bond wouldn’t mean new new taxes.  If voters approve the measure, they wouldn't end up paying more than they're already paying for parks repairs.

The city has a growing list of needed repairs - everything from repairing the bricks at downtown’s Pioneer Courthouse Square to a new playground at Couch Park in Northwest Portland to replacing the old one torn down earlier this year.

Jillian Hicks brings her dog, Henry, to Couch Park each evening to run around.  She sees the missing play structure and run-down restrooms every time she enters the park. 

Hicks said she’d gladly continue paying for parks repairs.

“I would love to keep doing that, actually," she said. "I think that's one of the things that makes Portland so great."

If the bond goes to voters and voters approve it, they would still pay about 9 cents per every $1,000.00 of assessed property value. It's been 20 years since the last bond, which expires next year, was passed.

The goal is to raise $68 million dollars. That would put a small dent in the $365 million the city has identified in necessary replacements and major maintenance that must be done over the next decade.

Aside from public bathroom and playground repairs, the bond would include trail repairs, pool maintenance, wheelchair accessibility and safety for parks workers.

Vince Parks is a new dad to a baby daughter and is also new to the green scene at Couch Park. He says he would vote for the bond.

"One day little Nica's going to be running around these parks, and you know, you just want to make sure she's got a nice clean place to do that,” Parks said.

Parks and Hicks both agree parks aren’t the only parts of the city that need some TLC.

Streets do too.

When asked if she’d pay a street fee and pay what she’s currently paying for parks, Hicks said, “It kind of would depend what the street fee was.”

Commissioner Fritz will ask City Council to put the new bond up to voters on Thursday. If they do, the measure will be on the November ballot.

You can read more about the proposed parks bond here.