Ground had already been broken, and grading was underway when some 150 neighbors, city officials and representatives of Native American tribes gathered on a warm August night to reveal the name of the city’s newest open recreational space. Formerly used as a construction staging area, just over two acres on the south side of Northeast Alberta Street at 52nd Avenue was dubbed Khunamokwst (pronounced KONN-oo-maskt) Park. The word means “together” in the language of the Clackamas/Multnomah People.
The park, according to Parks Director Mike Abbaté, is the first in Portland “honoring the First People to live on this land.” Abbaté referenced the newest Willamette River span, Tillikum Crossing, as having a similar distinction among Portland’s bridges. Abbaté called on Pauline Montana of the Siletz Tribe to bless the land and introduced Anna Gordon of Hacienda who had coordinated students’ design assistance for the new park. Two of the eighth-grade students spoke of their experiences.
Khunamokwst Park is expected to open in the spring of 2015 and will sport a traditional playground, a nature play area, water play feature, picnic tables and its own Portland loo. Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz said the park is being financed with system development charges and fees paid by developers; and she noted that the new park fills a gap in recreation areas in the Cully Neighborhood. When the park opens, thousands more families in Cully and surrounding neighborhoods will be within a half-mile walking distance of a park.
Prior to the park naming, Commissioner Fritz had asked the City Council to refer a continuation of the Park Bond to the voters during the November 4th election. Voters will decide whether to continue a levy that costs an average household $130 annually and has resulted in the repair and restoration of parks equipment throughout the city.