Chilled by mid-40 temperatures and drizzle characterized as a “Portland November morning,” but warmed by hot coffee and pastries, city officials and private partners joined in a brief ceremony to officially begin the $2.2-million renovation of Inner Northeast’s Dawson Park. Portland Development Commission Executive Director Patrick Quinton welcomed a small group to the “…historic and cultural heart of the African American Community” and hailed the neighbors and community partners who had made the park do-over possible.
Former Parks & Recreation Commissioner Nick Fish recounted the recent City Auditor’s rating of city parks as the highest city service by 86 percent of citizens surveyed and contrasted that with the parks gap between the inner city and outer eastern neighborhoods. Fish credited strong partnerships as the vehicle by which the city gets things done in its neighborhoods. Fish commended Legacy Emanuel Medical Center for stepping up with a $200,000 contribution to make Dawson Park’s new Children’s Fountain a reality.
Legacy’s Dr. Laurie Morgan said the park is the hospital’s back yard and committed Legacy to support healthy neighborhoods and healthy citizens. Current Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz touted the city’s “gold medal parks system” and decried how poorly funded the parks are as “one of the city’s best-kept secrets.” Urban League Director Michael Alexander expressed the hope that Portland would continue to be a city where people can prosper in place.
Following the brief remarks, about a dozen officials lined up, donned hard hats and used gold-colored shovels to ceremoniously break ground. Dawson Park will be closed during Portland’s rainy season and re-open for summer activities.