Portland officials are planning to gather suggestions from residents about a long-term vision for parks and open space in the city.
The city is working with two nonprofit organizations, Portland Trails and The Trust for Public Land, to launch a citywide assessment and comprehensive planning process that is aimed at guiding future decisions about parks, green space and open space in Portland. The process, which will include opportunities for public input, is being financed in part with an $18,000 grant. It comes at a time of heightened debate over the future of the city’s parks.
“We are going to have a series of community meetings to get input from various community partners and residents to see what improvements we can make to our open spaces,” said city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin on Tuesday. City officials and representatives from the two organizations plan to release additional details about the comprehensive plan and public outreach during a press conference Wednesday morning.
Portland Trails is a nonprofit land trust that works to expand and maintain a network of connected trails in the city. The Trust for Public Land is a national organization with a large presence in Maine that works with communities on land conservation projects as well as park planning.
Grondin said the initiative predates the recent referendum over strengthening protections of the city’s existing public spaces. That referendum gave voters more say over future proposals to sell 60 city-owned parcels and effectively blocked the sale of Congress Square Plaza, a small concrete park next to the newly renovated Westin Portland Harborview Hotel.
The Portland City Council will hold a workshop Monday to discuss how to reconcile differences between the measure passed by city voters on June 10 and an earlier ordinance passed by the City Council that included a similar but less restrictive set of standards for selling parks.
Meanwhile, the political action committee that led the referendum campaign is calling for the city to reconvene the Congress Square Redesign Study Group. That group had been working on ways to improve the plaza before councilors decided to sell two-thirds of the space to the redevelopers of the Westin. Leaders of Protect Portland Parks said they have been discussing options for improving Congress Square Plaza with city leaders and opponents of the referendum.