Posted on: July 16, 2014
The City of Portland, The Trust for Public Land, and Portland Trails announced today that they are joining forces to launch a citywide open spaces assessment and comprehensive planning initiative that will engage interested organizations and residents in achieving a holistic vision for a system of fully functional open spaces, green spaces, city parks, gardens, and trails, used by residents and tourists alike, that contribute to Portland being a 21st century world-class city. To support the public engagement process that is necessary to achieve an inclusive vision, Portland Trails announced that it was recently awarded an $18,000 grant by the Lerner Foundation.
“I want to thank The Trust for Public Land and Portland Trails for partnering with us on this effort as we know how important open spaces are in sustaining great communities,” said City Manager Mark Rees. “City parks are a tremendous asset and contribute significantly to the quality of life we enjoy in Portland, but this effort will go beyond that by looking at ways in which we can improve our parks and open spaces and sustain them into the future. Additionally, I’m pleased that several of the expected outcomes directly respond to the Council’s 2014 Common Goals.”
In March, 2014, the City of Portland requested technical assistance from The Trust for Public Land – a leading national nonprofit land conservation organization – related to the accomplishment of specific tasks geared toward supporting a vision and a plan for the City’s open spaces and parks. These tasks include building a set of community open space goals and GIS based visualization tools to be used as a common basis for understanding what the city has today for parks, open spaces, gardens, and other publicly owned land. Outcomes will also include the development of an assessment tool (with public input) to look across city owned land and help guide decisions about which spaces may need more recreational facilities, trails, space to grow food, public art, additional protections and which are better suited to develop, how to improve park quality and access, and an assessment of resource needs.
The proposed work also includes The Trust for Public Land providing its expertise to identify options for sustainable funding. At the same time, Portland Trails applied for, and was granted, funding through the Lerner Foundation for the creation of a community wide vision for Portland’s open spaces. The Trust for Public Land and Portland Trails will work together with City staff on this project, with Portland Trails utilizing its grant funding to conduct the community engagement portion of the vision and planning process.
"We're delighted to work with the City, and Portland Trails, and glad that they sought out our technical expertise and recommendations,” said Wolfe Tone, Maine State Director for the Trust for Public Land. “There are a wealth of open space assets in this community in addition to our city's parks, trails and gardens, particularly the dozens of dedicated local stakeholders and stewards who care about these spaces deeply. We are honored to work on behalf of these existing assets and stakeholders, along with other open space lovers in Portland, to build consensus on a collective future open space vision for Portland as a community."
The group will work to undertake feasibility research, conduct a public opinion survey, and develop strategies for consideration. This process will also include a review of existing relevant master plan documents. The group realizes that it is not possible to achieve its goals without the alignment of the various interested parties, constituencies and open space initiatives to ensure there is cross communication and collaboration with the existing City of Portland Parks Commission, the Land Bank, and City staff.
“We are excited for the opportunity that the Lerner Foundation grant presents to us and we’re eager to begin the public engagement process,” said Kara Wooldrik, Executive Director of Portland Trails. “We will facilitate a series of public meetings, beginning in the fall, aimed at developing a community wide open spaces vision that will set the course for Portland’s future.”
About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at www.tpl.org.
About Portland Trails
Portland Trails has nearly 70 miles of trails in and around Portland, including Back Cove, Fore River Sanctuary, the Stroudwater and Presumpscot Rivers, East End and Bayside Trails. Each year more trails are connecting hikers, cyclists, and runners to Greater Portland. Since 1991, Portland Trails has turned abandoned city lots and tracts of land that have been donated to the land trust into places to discover wildlife, exercise, and enjoy a peaceful respite in the city. Learn more at www.trails.orgRead on...