March 16, 2010

Seeing green in Bayside gritLOCAL

JOHN RICHARDSON

— By

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John Ewing/Staff Photographer: Tuesday, May 27, 2008....The Bayside Trail has been planned for more than a decade and will follow the abandoned rail line that runs from the Eastern Prom to Deering Oaks. Sam Hodder, of Trust for Public Land, and Planet Dog marketing director Catherine Frost stand on a section of the proposed trail which will feature one of several "pocket parks".

click image to enlarge

John Ewing/Staff Photographer: Tuesday, May 27, 2008....The Bayside Trail has been planned for more than a decade and will follow the abandoned rail line that runs from the Eastern Prom to Deering Oaks. Planet Dog owner Alex Fisher is a strong proponent of the $million, 1.2 mile trail which is intended to be both a recreational trail and a commuter link for pedestrians and bikers.

Additional Photos Below

Staff Writer

A 1.2-mile strip of abandoned railway, industrial lots and weeds is about to become Portland's newest downtown park.

After nearly a decade of planning and assembling land, cleanup work is starting this week on what is unofficially called the Bayside Trail or Bayside Promenade. The pathway and green spaces, or ''pocket parks,'' that will be created along the trail will connect the Eastern Prom and Back Cove trails with Deering Oaks, and will be the centerpiece of a revitalized Bayside neighborhood, advocates said.

''It's almost hard to imagine right now,'' said Ron Spinella, chair of the Bayside Neighborhood Association. ''But you can start to really see what a wonderful amenity that's going to be.''

The public is invited to get a first look at the future trail on June 7, National Trails Day. Volunteers can help clean and clear a section of the trail that morning, and then celebrate that afternoon at a free festival sponsored by Planet Dog, which has a retail store next to the trail.

''We've been staring at these tracks for years, knowing that there is potential here,'' said Alex Fisher, founder of Planet Dog.

Fisher and other supporters walked a section of the future trail Tuesday afternoon, stepping over rusted rails, trash and broken glass.

Nearby, a crane slowly moved huge pieces of metal from an industrial scrap pile that is being moved to another part of the city.

The $5 million trail will feature a landscaped, paved path and several open spaces with gardens, benches and fountains.

It is intended to be both a recreational trail and new green gateway into the city for the growing number of commuters who walk or ride bikes.

''I think any city in the country would be clamoring to get an opportunity like this,'' said Sam Hodder, project manager for the Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation group with offices in Portland.

The Trust for Public Land and Portland Trails have been working with city officials and the Bayside Neighborhood Association for years to develop the trail. Planet Dog and Diversified Business Communications are leading business supporters.

The trail's official name hasn't been decided, but the organizers of the June 7 festival have collected suggestions to submit to the city.

Portland Trails plans to start clearing overgrown sections of the trail this week so volunteers can get to the rail bed.

''There are trees growing up in the middle of it,'' said Nan Cumming, director of the city land trust.

The start of the ground work is exciting for the neighborhood and for trail advocates, who have long dreamed of a pathway through the gritty, neglected section of the city.

''It's been on our vision map since the day we were founded in 1991,'' Cumming said.

The Bayside Neighborhood Association and city officials started working in 1999 toward building the trail as part of a broader redevelopment of the area.

Efforts accelerated when the city acquired the former railroad land in 2005 in a $1.9 million deal with the state Department of Transportation.

The rail corridor consisted of 10 narrow strips of land running from Forest Avenue to Tukey's Bridge.

Last fall, the Department of Transportation also gave the city $560,000 toward the project. Portland Trails and the Trust for Public Land plan to raise an additional $3.5 million to cover the cost of building and maintaining the trail.

Construction is expected to take about 18 months, with fundraising happening simultaneously.

''We are hoping that the trail will be on the ground next year, and landscaping and parks the following year,'' Cumming said.

Portland is already well known for its network of trails and parks, but the Bayside neighborhood has been an exception.

''This is a section of the city that needs some love,'' said Catherine Frost, director of marketing for Planet Dog.

While supporters say the project will have the same kind of broad appeal as the Eastern Prom trail, it will clearly transform Bayside.

''It'll be a nice area to relieve the daily challenge of living in the city, and the pedestrian connection is fantastic,'' said Spinella, leader of the neighborhood group. ''That's going to be the premier space in the neighborhood.''

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

John Ewing/Staff Photographer: Tuesday, May 27, 2008....The Bayside Trail has been planned for more than a decade and will follow the abandoned rail line that runs from the Eastern Prom to Deering Oaks. A public cleanup and party is scheduled for June 7 in the area behind the Planet Dog store on Marginal Way in Portland.

  


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