By David Pietka
Neighbor of Grant Park
Portland Public Schools are moving forward with a land use hearing regarding a new softball field at Grant High School. The design is essentially complete, but PPS and the Parks Department have pushed all of the impact mitigation discussions to the hearing. The Grant Park Neighborhood Association will discuss it in early November, and the city hearing will take place in February of next year.
Several neighbors have asked for operational details regarding lights, sound and traffic management, without a response. We now learn that PPS and the parks department are negotiating additional use of the facilities which may extend into the evening. Due to a lack of responsiveness to our request, the neighbors of Grant Park have prepared the following diagram which will be discussed at our next general assembly. The plan presents some common sense actions that could reduce the impacts.
- Restrict activity, limiting after-hours use to students only
- Limit the use of the audio system to games and not to practices
- Limit the use of lights for games to 8:30 p.m.
- Limit the use of lights for practices at 8:00 p.m.
- Prohibit the use of the lighting and sound system by the park service
- Stop buses from idling in US Grant Place
- Create loading zones in front of the entrance to the gymnasium and the softball field
- Limit parking on the south side of US Grant Place to one car per 50 feet
- Honor US Grant Place as a designated bike path and convert it to local access only
- Carry out a more complete study of traffic and parking needs
- Establish a trash patrol after each activity, removing trash, water bottles, clothing draped over fences, etc.
- Create a parking zone with a neighborhood permit
- Add speed bumps at US Grant Place to slow traffic down and create a safer street
- Create a no-go zone on the premises after 10 p.m., imposed by patrols
- No commercial sign opposite US Grant Place (We recommend a monument in honor of Debbie Egelstad instead.)
- The stands and canoes must be locked, except during matches and training
Neighbors have always supported student activity. We have not changed our position. The design team did a good job designing the fields, taking into account access, location of shelters, layout, storage, etc. We are concerned about the level and duration of authorized activities and the lack of an operational plan to mitigate impacts on the neighborhood. We understand that the land is jointly owned by the Parks Department and Portland Public Schools and that these two entities, without discussion with the neighborhood association, have spoken of extended use of the land – authorized by the lights. We are told that as of October 8, an 80-page agreement is being negotiated and includes hours of operation.
We strongly oppose the use of the field beyond the students. We have repeatedly asked for the operational and mitigation plan. The PPS and the Parks Department have always said this would be addressed during the land use hearing. So here we are. We want a quiet, peaceful neighborhood and we have been ignored. We wouldn’t be here if PPS and the Parks Department had engaged us in developing a mitigation strategy to keep US Grant Place safe and peaceful when we first requested it ago. over 18 months. We believe it is reasonable to request that mitigation efforts be undertaken to create a safe and calm environment in the neighborhood. This is a residential area already overloaded with excessive and constant activity. Adopting the school and its associated activity as we have done does not force the neighborhood to accept prolonged use by the parks service.
It is time for concerned citizens to get involved. Most of the neighbors support the project, but request that a mitigation strategy be developed before the project goes to construction. Please attend the next Grant Park Neighborhood Association meeting or email the association with your comments. Everyone around the park will be affected by the additional activity and every neighbor is encouraged to step in.