By Midge Pierce
A citizens task force that met frequently this summer with engineers from the Portland Water Bureau reports the final plan application has not yet been filed for Mt. Tabor reservoir disconnect and multi-year, multi-million dollar pipe removal and construction project.
The task force appointed by MTNA (Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association) has been successful in negotiating significant construction mitigation that would reduce the number of large trees removed, lessen the disruption to view corridors, pathways and the dog park plus retain water flow into the historic basins.
“Knowing we’re watchdogging this, has made it a different, more thoughtful process,” says task force member John Laursen who is also on the MTNA Board. Laursen says the City will be more careful about where they dig and which trees they remove.
“This is good news,” responded acting MTNA Board President Nancy Norby at a recent meeting.
Once filed, the public will have limited time to provide comments for inclusion in a Bureau of Development Services Report for the Landmarks Commission to review.
The review is required due to the historic designation of the iconic basins. Delays might give citizens more time to comprehend construction impact, make their views known and influence the process.
However, the reservoir disconnect is not the only challenge facing Mt. Tabor – and other Portland parks. Throughout the city, unfunded park repairs are estimated to total more than $360 million.
In Mt. Tabor, money is desperately needed for revegetation unrelated to the pipe deconstruction and pricey park repairs to structures such as the upper restrooms and lower maintenance yard buildings.
Costs for city-wide repairs would be partially covered by renewal of the Portland Parks and Recreation Bond measure on the November ballot that would authorize some $68 million in critical repairs and improvements to trails, playgrounds and maintenance facilities.
Members of the reservoir task force think the measure is critical to the future of local parks and plan to encourage residents to vote for passage. They stress that it’s an unusual bond that won’t “cost” taxpayers anything. It is simply a renewal of an existing bond passed in the early 90s that is paid by current property taxes.
The City says it costs the average household less than $20 a year.
Advocates fear that not passing the measure could result in trail, park and pool closures. The current bond expires in June, 2015.