City Wide Parks Team
Thursday, March 17, 2005 
Pettygrove Room-City Hall
1221 SW 4th Avenue
Portland, OR 97204
Meeting Notes
7:00 - 8:30 PM
Chair: Amanda Fritz
Secretary: Alesia Reese

A sign- in sheet was provided and participants were afforded the opportunity to join the City Wide Parks Team list serve Internet communication system. Participants were encouraged to elect not to receive paper mailed notices, in order to save money. Anyone unable to access e-mail and the Internet is welcome to receive mailed notices. The Office of Neighborhood Involvement supports outreach efforts of the City Parks Team. The meeting location was changed by the city to the Pettygrove room. The Team will continue to examine other meeting location proposals.

I.

Amanda Fritz, Interim Chair, described the creation of the City Parks Team and attendees introduced themselves and their interests. Chet Orloff, Vice Chair of the Portland Parks Board was introduced and invited to explain the Boardís processes, goals and membership.


II
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 city.
  • 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 Council, though.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
Q. Who is on the Parks Board?
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 Portland.

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 agenda?
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 key positions.

Q. Your meeting schedule makes it difficult for people-the morning, downtown, a comment? 
A. It is a tough time to meet, the 1st Wednesday, usually.

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.

III

Parks Management

Discussion: Citizens can provide more than public testimony. Citizens who are involved and do not see significant changes lose interest. The degree of involvement is different for some and the budget process puts citizens are odds with one another.
 

  • A participant presented information from a representative of the Parks Bureau that 5 of 6 planners will stay (dated 3/17/05). ? Isnít it more of a 7% cut (instead of 5%)?
  • Itís more of an 8% cut. Shouldnít we start calling it an 8% cut?  No, the explanation of not even accepting a 5% cut is important. We have had some successes. Letís build on them.

  •  

     

    *Peninsula Center Hearing
    *NAPA Parts flyer identified as distributed by Parks employees. The Team discussed Bureau management, procurement and corporate waste. Chet Orloff expressed concern about the flyer being distributed by invested employees.  He was not comfortable with the information and unsure of the figures presented in the flyer charging Bureau procurement waste.

 
Q: How much of the Parks Bureau budget did the staff help with?
Chet Orloff: Quite a lot.

Q: Did the Parks Board discuss the vacant position issue?
Chet Orloff: We didnít have a discussion on it.

Q: What will be the overall cost of the reorganization?
Chet Orloff: Relatively small.

Participant: The staff turnover and need for a learning curve is costly. Willamette Park, for example, could charge for parking. It is free and there is revenue there.
Chet Orloff: The Parks Board needs distance from (Parks) staff.

Q: Is staff present at Parks Board meetings?
Chet Orloff: Yes, we are not a board of commissioners. We are an advisory board.

Discussion: 
The Parks Bureau is not transparent; citizens want more involvement in 
discussions and decision-making.
-Citizens can go to the City Auditorís office. 
-Citizens openly say they will never vote for a levy again. 
-Subcontracting businesses are one way to reduce costs. Moving toward private companies for purchases of parks benches and play structures for example.

Money is being wasted in several ways:
-Disregard planning (Peninsula Park example)
-Midland Parkís kiosk is an example of a blocked project and reduced plans
-Volunteers become discouraged.  The system is depending more and more on volunteers.  Efforts and volunteers are lost. 
-Volunteer programs are blocked at every step
Suggestion: Why not make the bidding (on parks contracts and purchases) open so that if a local business matches a non-local business the contract would go to the local company.

Strategy:
The next scheduled Parks Bureau budget meeting is March 31st
  • Can the City Parks Team get a copy before the 31st?
  • Work groups go the mayor on March 22nd
  • Community Budget Forum on March 31st
  • Mayorís proposed budget April 7th
  • Assume everything we support will be cut from the budget. It is difficult to strategize when the cuts change from day to day. 
  • Participants can contact the City and inform them that cuts are not acceptable.
  • Use list serve to communicate: Paula Casner: Paularcasner@aol.com
  • Know the issues
  • Share your ideas
  • Support public-private partnerships.


Announcements: 
1.  Skate Park citing process-comment period  April 14th 
2.  Midland Park Native Plant Sale  May 1st    1-3 PM
3. Brentwood Community Garden Fruit Plants  March 19th
4. SOLV In Columbia Childrenís Arboretum  April 23rd
5. Parkrose Community Fair  June 5th
6. Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair  lost zoning decision 5-0
7. Willamette Park Ėpulling weeds  March 26th
 8. Willamette Park- clearing blackberries  March 29th
9. Hamilton Park-stream restoration 
10. Pioneer Courthouse Square 
11. Red Tail Golf Course-Beaverton location 
12. SW Trails-urban trail signage progressing 
13. Holly Farms development progressing 
14. Friends of Trees-planting  1st Saturday
Meeting adjourned.
Respectfully submitted, 
Alesia J. Reese 

Interim Secretary 
City Wide Parks Team