May 21, 2013

Another View: City should hold on to, improve Congress Square Park

A plan to sell what's now a public space to a developer would be a loss for city dwellers.

By Jennifer Lunden

In regards to "Our View: Plaza plan would create appealing public space" (April 26):

Portland is at risk of losing one of its public parks to a developer.

Many people argue that Congress Square Park is an eyesore and therefore should be sold, but those people may not know that there is an actual Congress Square Redesign Study Group, formed in 2008, which has $50,000 earmarked for a new design for the park.

I am writing as one of the many concerned citizens who do not want the city to allow RockBridge, the new owner of the former Eastland Hotel, to turn Congress Square Park into a hotel ballroom.

I have danced tango in Congress Square Park, participated in demonstrations, sat and enjoyed a sunny day, listened to live music.

I own a business that is located in the State Theatre building across the street from Congress Square Park.

It is a public park that I and many others value.

Congress Square Park has fallen into disrepair because it has been neglected by the Portland Downtown District, which is paid taxpayer funds for upkeep of all of Portland's downtown parks.

Remember "Movies in the Park" in Congress Square? Remember live music? Those events were hosted by the Portland Downtown District -- but no more.

I do believe that Congress Square Park could be improved.

A redesign would make the park even more community friendly. Raise it up, add some more green, bring back live shows and watch it turn into a park that feels friendlier to everyone, much like Post Office Park.

We should not allow Congress Square Park to be the first public park in Portland's history to be sold to a private developer.

That, to me, would be a foreboding precedent in this time when so many city dwellers are starving for green spaces.

Jennifer Lunden is a resident of Portland.


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