By Jack Rubinger
Friends of Mt. Tabor Park (FMTP) started in the year 2000. Its purpose is to monitor park use, assist visitors and preserve and protect the park.
FMTP has 11 board members and three volunteer programs committees:
The Foot Patrol – ambassadors who help answer questions and pick up trash; the wonderful and wacky weed warriors – eliminating invasive plants like English Ivy, (this group has teamed up with the Bureau of Environmental Services and has received a great deal of city support) and the Visitors Center which receives about 12,000 park enthusiasts annually.
Dave Hillman, one of the original members, retired from FMTP recently. Hillman organized the foot patrol and was responsible for the Visitors Center.
“Dave and I worked together for 14 years,” said volunteer Mary Kinnick. “Dave’s philosophy was to do what needs to be done and ask for permission later.
Without his persistence, Kinnick continued, “we would likely have had no Visitors Center because there was a period when some volunteers felt that establishing a Center was a bit grandiose for our small park. But Dave realized that Mt. Tabor Park is a destination park as well as a neighborhood park and that volunteers would come forth to support it. They did.
“He realized how the Center could contribute to the community’s knowledge of the park and to visitor information about going out and about in the metro area and beyond. The rest is history!”
Hillman was instrumental in 2018 with connecting individuals and business owners in the Tabor neighborhood to raise more than $100,000 to support the weed warriors.
Future park challenges and opportunities include oversight of the park’s reservoir and participation in the Intertwine Alliance, a group of public and private organizations dedicated to integrating nature into the park.
In the future, the park will need funding for bike racks, drinking fountains and other amenities.
FMTP has received numerous awards over the years from Oregon’s Citizenship Award and the Spirit of Portland Award. FMTP was recognized by the annual award from the statewide Oregon Recreation and Parks Association as an outstanding community-based organization.
FMTP Weed Warriors were recognized as best community-based organization by statewide SOLVE, and the FMTP Foot Patrol has been recognized as a model volunteer program by the Portland Police Bureau.
FMTP received no funding for these awards.
This October 4, FMTP will sponsor the Tar ‘n’ Trail Race, an on and off-pavement fundraising race if the County is in Phase III of the reopening plan.
The Tar ’n’ Trail is an annual event that contributes many thousands to FMTP through donated funds. Those funds are used for projects designed to enhance park facilities and amenities and the ecological health of the park, according to Kinnick.
In early July, Portland Parks & Recreation indicated they hope Multnomah County will be approved in September to enter Phase III of the reopening plan, which has no limit on crowds participating in outdoor activities, though, it’s hard to predict what will happen between now and then.
The plan is to open race registration as a “wait list” to allow people to sign up without being charged.
“If things go as planned and we do enter Phase III, wait-listers will be “invited” to register and will be charged upon acceptance of the invitation,” said Kinnick.
Visit the race website, runannie.net, for details.
Interested in learning about the park and upcoming activities? Visit taborfriends.org.
Photo of Dave Hillman by Andrew Haliburton