A park under construction in the Cully neighborhood rises high enough to offer views of the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens and, on a clear day, Mt. Adams and the tip of Mt. Rainier.
Thomas Cully Park, at the northern end of a rebuilt Northeast 72nd Avenue, north of Killingsworth Street, is being developed in a public-private partnership on a 25-acre site once mined for sand and gravel, then filled with garbage until the 1990s.
“We think this is going to be a destination site,” said Alan Hipolito, executive director of Verde, a 12-year-old nonprofit that plans and builds environmental improvements to benefit low-income residents and people of color.
Construction on the first phase of the park is expected to wrap up before the end of the year, said Ron White, the Verde Builds project manager. The park’s public opening is scheduled for spring 2018.
The Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation purchased the old dump site in 2000 and a park master plan was completed in 2008. However, the bureau didn’t have money to create a park. Verde launched a park campaign and developed a public-private partnership with the Parks Bureau, which City Council approved in 2012. That meant Verde could raise funds.
Since 2012, Verde and the bureau have raised most of the money to meet the $11.3 million construction budget, Hipolito said. However, a gap remains of $75,000 which Verde hopes to fill with crowdfunding. Those who wish to contribute to the effort may go to www.generosity.com.
The park will have a covered children’s play area. About a third of the 13,300 people living in the neighborhood are under 18, Hipolito said. Verde worked with four local schools to develop a design suggested by the students.
Volunteers from the Native American Youth and Family Center worked on a Native Gathering Garden, including culturally significant plants, at the highest point of the site.
The improved 72nd Avenue is a “greenstreet” with plants in bioswales that keep pollution from local waterways. The walkway is wheelchair accessible and the paving material allows rain to drain into the soil. The sidewalk design also has pedestrian and bike amenities, and a small parking lot is at the end of the avenue.
Others cooperating in the park’s development include Hacienda CDC, a development corporation working on housing, economic advancement and educational opportunities; Cully Association of Neighbors; and Living Cully, a coalition including Verde, Hacienda CDC, NAYA and Habitat for Humanity-Portland Metro East.