It’s clear what Portland voters don’t want: to proceed with the sale of Congress Square Plaza. It’s time to get more specific about how to get what they do want and what the city doesn’t have now: a park that is a lively, attractive public space.

Portlanders on Tuesday narrowly approved Question 1, a referendum that will make it harder to sell city-owned land. It will also delay – and possibly scrap – city officials’ plan to sell part of Congress Square Plaza to the owner of the adjacent Westin Portland Harborview Hotel. And it could trigger a second, citywide vote on the fate of the disputed parcel.

Congress Square Plaza has been the focus of discussion for more than five years. In 2008, a community task force was created to address its shortcomings. In 2011, Rockbridge Capital presented plans to use two-thirds of the park for an event center. Last fall, this proposal led to a 3-1 vote in favor of the project by the City Council’s Housing and Community Development Committee and a 6-3 vote by the full council after an emotional public hearing.

The approval this week of a ballot initiative presented by opponents of the sale puts the proposal on hold while the developer decides whether or not to pursue the project. If the proposal does proceed, under the retroactively effective ordinance, the city won’t be able to sell the park – or any other space protected by the newly expanded Portland Land Bank Commission – without the approval of at least eight of the nine city councilors, or through a public referendum if six or seven councilors vote to approve it.

But regardless of what Rockbridge Capital decides to do, a realistic and sustainable proposal to revitalize the park will have to be developed.

Members of Friends of Congress Square Park and Protect Portland Parks, which supported Question 1, have said early and often that the parcel has been underused only because of city neglect. Now that the referendum has passed, they’ll have to collaborate with the city and other referendum opponents to revive Congress Square Plaza. For this effort to succeed, both sides should accept in advance that they won’t get all they want and should commit to reaching a solution that doesn’t entail drawn-out legal battles and referendum campaigns.

One of the most pressing questions: Given the city’s financial constraints, how will park maintenance and programming be financially supported? Portland’s Downtown District, a nonprofit that promotes the city’s downtown, drew crowds to its Movies in the Park but lost sponsorship funding and had to discontinue the events. The last thing anyone wants to see is for the park to have another brief heyday, only to fall into another slump.

In recent months, a lot of people have put a lot of energy into the debate over Congress Square Plaza. Anyone who truly wants this space to be a success should now abandon the divisive rhetoric and open themselves to other people’s ideas on how the parcel can best work for the public.