|Chet Orloff describes
the Parks Board
The 1899 Oregon Legislature required larger
sized communities in the state to create Parks Boards. The early Boards
were powerful and influential resulting in a plan created by famed designer
Olmstead to design the Portland parks system which helped to shape the
In 1913 the Parks Board was disbanded and
not reconstructed until 2001. The Boardís mission is to support the
2020 Vision Plan. While every member of the Board is actively involved,
they do not represent specific geographical areas or special interests.
Members of the Parks Board are appointed by City Council, usually by the
Commissioner in charge of the Parks Bureau. The interim commissioner in
charge is Sam Adams. The Parks Board addresses all members of the City
The Board advocates by gaining the attention
of City Council and the Parks Bureau. The Board, as an advocate for the
Parks, is to raise awareness of parks in the city. The definition of the
Parks Board is interpreted individually by its members. The Board
understands the history of parks and the role of parks in general and Specifically
in Portland. Board members move forward the Parks Bureau agenda.
Q. Who is on the Parks Board?
While the Board is independent of Parks staff,
there is a tendency for members to be drawn into the process. The danger
is to be strong advocates for a better knowledge, understanding and history
of the Bureau yet to maintain a distance as citizens.
A. Geographic, social, economic and religious
strata of citizens are on the Board (specific members are listed on the
Bureau website). Members serve 4 year appointments. The Board has
support from the city attorney to write the bylaws and secretarial support
from the Bureau. It has taken one year to develop the bylaws with assistance
from the city attorney. The Board should be a Board to get the attention
of City Council. The power structure of the City resulted in loss of people
on the Board. A passion and commitment for parks is required.
Q. Can you describe Board meetings?
A. The Parks Board is not like the Planning
Commission, which is mandated by legislation. The Parks Board has an informed
atmosphere. The Board looks to develop a larger base of support. The Board
meets monthly, (the 1st Wednesday) at 7:30 AM next door to City
Hall. There has been discussion to change the meeting time and location
to support membership.
Q. Are membersí affiliation identified
by region or interest? Southwest Portland for example?
A. No. It is not the intent of the Board
to represent one area or interest. Yes, a member of the Board is from southwest
Q. How do members get nominated?
A. Board members are identified as interested.
Q. What if a citizen wanted to serve
(on the Parks Board)?
A. Let the mayor know and the next Commissioner
in charge of Parks.
Q. Are there vacancies now? How many?
A. Yes, two (2).
Q. What (typically) is on the Boardís
A. Right now, the budget. The real mission
of the Parks Board is the 2020 Vision. The Board is the steward of
the Vision. The budget, staff hires and strategic plans should be looked
at though the 2020 Vision.
Q. How deep do you (Parks Board) get
into the budget?
A. We get down to the line item level.
We look at the balance from a citywide balance.
Q. Concerning the Parks Bureau reorganization,
was the Board involved?
A. Very much so, right down to hiring
Q. Your meeting schedule makes it difficult
for people-the morning, downtown, a comment?
A. It is a tough time to meet, the 1st
Q. Is there a way to verify the meeting?
A. Should be on the website. You can call
Zari Santer, Parks Bureau Director or Nancy Stites, the Parks Board secretary.
Q. What can the neighborhoods do?
A. I donít know. We as a Parks Board have
been dealing with the budget issue. You can approach City Council,
involving public testimony. This is a really good body to provide advocacy
from neighborhoods and Friends of Parks groups.
Q. What about this budget process?
A. There has been a lot of surprises in
the process. The staff and Council have been thrown through a loop. They
have not been through this process. What kind of advocacy is being done
by other Bureaus and how effective are they? The parks people have overwhelmed
Commissioners by articulate representatives. We (parks) are a relatively
small piece of the city budget. Even 2-3 million dollars in the Parks Bureau
budget goes a long way. The staffing of bureaus at the City Council level
is about timing and advocacy. The Police have strong advocates, for example.