Portland’s effort to redesign Congress Square is getting a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the city announced Thursday in a news release.

The grant is part of the NEA’s “Our Town” program, which supports creative, art-centered, place-making projects as ways to build community.

The city is in the process of selecting design and art consultants to redesign the busy intersection and improve the small, hard-scaped park at High and Congress streets that was the center of controversy in 2013 and 14.

At that time, the city council voted to sell the park to a developer for a new event center, but a group of residents formed the Friends of Congress Square Park and led a citywide referendum to overturn the sale and increase protections for other public parks.

Last week, four design teams held a community forum about their ideas for the area. The city expects to make a selection later this month, according to the news release. The city expects to select an artist to create a piece of public art for the park early this summer.

The NEA grant awarded to the city, in partnership with the Friends of Congress Square Park and the Portland Public Art Committee, is one of 64 projects in the U.S. receiving $4.3 million in funding. About 240 organizations sought funding through the program, which makes awards ranging from $25,000 to $100,000.

Randy Billings can be reached at 791-6346 or at:

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