As Khunamokwst Park was in the process of opening to the public and preparations made for official opening festivities, word came that Thomas Cully Park, still on the drawing board and not expected to be developed and open until sometime in 2016, had received a $500,000 Department of the Interior Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. Portland Parks & Recreation, Verde and the Let Us Build Cully Park! Coalition made the grant announcement, significantly boosting the unique public-private partnership’s movement toward realizing their park vision.
When completed, Thomas Cully Park will be a 25-acre Cully neighborhood park on a former brownfield along Northeast 72nd Avenue north of Northeast Killingsworth Street. The surrounding neighborhood had been identified as parks-and-green-space-deficient with 405 families not currently within a half-mile walk of a park or natural area.
“This critical investment in Northeast Portland will help build a new playground, walking trail and soccer field, creating spaces for kids and families,” according to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore). “This grant fits perfectly with the city’s philosophy of complete neighborhoods,” Portland Mayor Charlie Hales added, “… including good streets, schools, jobs, shopping … and, of course, parks and recreation.”
The grant will fund restoration of wildlife habitat, development of an accessible playground, a walking trail with exercise equipment, scenic overlooks, an off-leash dog area, Intertribal Gathering Garden (open to the public) and a youth soccer field.
“This grant is a huge boost for Thomas Cully Park and to the community partners who are so deeply engaged with making the park a reality,” according to Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz, and Alan Hipólito, Executive Director of Verde, lead organization in the Let Us Build Cully Park! Coalition said “We’re tremendously excited and honored that our community’s hard work and vision are being realized.”
Let Us Build Cully Park!, a coalition of more than 15 community-based organizations, has raised more than $4.85 million for the park’s development (including the $500,000 grant). A 2014 Oregon Parks & Recreation Department grant added $473,000 towards building Thomas Cully Parks, and a February 2014 designation of $1.25 million in System Development Charges — money raised from development fees, rather than General Fund tax dollars — completed the funding of Thomas Cully Park’s construction.