Vance Park is a well-worn jewel in the rough in Gresham, Oregon’s Rockwood neighborhood. Used for a variety of purposes, like futsal, community gardens, Frisbee golf, and children’s playground, it’s potential lies in more uses and the reuse of the adjacent sites, including Vance Pit. The Pit is comprised of a defunct gravel pit, suspected former landfills and other industrial uses. The Rockwood community faces considerable challenges and opportunities. As Gresham’s highest density and poorest neighborhood, Rockwood boasts a rich ethnic tapestry. It has struggled economically in recent years, and the City, county and state partners are committed to nurturing a more prosperous community. Rockwood CDC has embarked on a strategy to promote community and economic development. Through Rockwood Speaks and other initiatives, they are steadily building a base for the economic growth and stability of the neighborhood and its residents.
On April 22 and 24, CCLR and its partners, Fregonese Associates, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Multnomah County, assisted Rockwood CDC in hosting workshops for Russian and Spanish speaking neighbors to explore ways to improve Vance Park and surrounding areas. As a focal point of the neighborhood where most errands are conducted on foot or public transit, a more lively and safe park, and revitalized Vance Pit, will improve the well being of residents. The ideas from the residents were a diverse representation of the possibilities for increasing park use and foot traffic, and quality of life enhancements and economic development opportunities for surrounding properties. Popular suggestions included more lighting, more expansive community garden, secured park entrances, and, last but not least, paths, trails, more sports courts/fields and picnicking in an expansion into Vance Pit.
The participants greatly appreciated the opportunity to suggest ways to improve the park. David S., a college student who is also the audio-visual expert at the local church said, “Это был мой первый раз, когда я делал что-то подобное, но это было весело и интересно!” (It was my first time doing something like this, but it was fun and interesting!)
Ricardo Ruiz, recreation program manager for the City said, “Fué un buen comienzo. Esperemos que podamos ampliar el alcance a más miembros de la comunidad, especialmente a la perspectiva de los jóvenes en el próximo torneo de futsal.” (It was a good start. Hopefully we can expand outreach to more community members, especially the youth perspective at the next futsal tournament.) David Klassen, Senior Pastor at Church Home of God adds, “We are excited to give back to the community, participate in improvement of the area and looking forward for more collaboration". Indeed, more opportunities for input are planned, and will culminate in a distillation of all the ideas for a presentation at an Open House for the consideration of City and County leaders.
The Vision-to-Action (V2A) exercise is funded from a grant from the EPA, and is designed to elicit community ideas for sustainable economic and environmental improvement in areas affected by blighted properties, including brownfields. These workshops are design for and by community partners. In the Gresham workshops, simultaneous Russian and Spanish translation was available. If your community is interested in a V2A, contact CCLR!
To see more photo's and reactions to the V2A workshops in Gresham, OR, please see our Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of Masters Quill, via Flickr.