Everyone who contacted me or spoke before the Council was very articulate and did a wonderful job demonstrating just how precious the views from Fort Sumner are. It was honestly some of the best public testimony I have heard in my year on the Council, and I thank everyone who participated.
Given the time constraints of the moratorium, it was necessary to focus this effort in a concentrated area. Drafting new language to apply citywide would require a much greater investment of time since we would need to carefully consider all of Portland’s park land and public grounds and the effect such regulations could have on them and their surrounding areas.
While I believe that protecting and conserving open space throughout the city is essential, I appreciate and fully support this measured approach. It’s important that we do our best to ensure there won’t be any unintended consequences from any new ordinance language we put in place.
There will be two significant opportunities for public comment on these rules as they make their way through the process: when the item goes before the Planning Board, and again when the City Council takes up the second read of the item. Of course, as soon as the language is available, people can begin commenting on it by submitting written comments to the city planning department, the Planning Board, or members of the Council, so there should be plenty of opportunity for people to weigh in.
I don't have dates for any of these meetings yet, but we are on a very tight schedule here. Ideally, the item will have a first read at the City Council on January 2nd, which means it would need to go to the Planning Board in December. Which is this month.
As soon as I have more details on the timeline, I will post them here, so be sure to check back for updates.
This moratorium has given them a chance to address the issue of Parks Protections in one area of our city, and I believe that the work they are doing now will be helpful as we seek to create similar protections in other areas of the city. Again: it's going to take time. I understand and appreciate that. I just want to make sure we keep this goal in mind so that we can accomplish it in the not-too-distant future and put ourselves in the enviable position of being able to act proactively rather than reactively.
I should certainly take a moment to note that the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Facilities (PRF) already does a fantastic job managing these valuable resources within our city. They are wonderful stewards of our parks and open spaces, and they have created master plans for many of them along with multiple reports discussing the value of these spaces and the need to preserve them.
In addition, the city recently worked with the Trust for Public Land and Portland Trails to create the Portland Open Space Vision and Implementation Plan which came out in January of 2016. This plan has made a great start in mapping many of Portland’s parks and open spaces, listing their assets, and setting some goals and priorities for the future. Much work has already been done on this front, and I’m glad to be part of a city—and a City Council—that values these spaces appropriately and is interested in continuing to manage, conserve, and preserve them.