Portland Parks are Wrecked

(Photo is a stock photo.)

By Stew Robertson

You would think Portland Parks and Rec is on a roll. Since 2013, the city has opened six new parks. Last year, Portland voters approved a property tax increase expected to bring the parks department an additional $48 million a year.

Even so, the city has put off park maintenance. It’s gotten so bad that 73 of the city’s 103 tennis courts have fallen into disrepair. You might assume that, with facilities deteriorating and money for repairs lacking, Parks and Rec would be grateful for a group of citizens looking to help. You would be wrong.

Last week, Willamette Week’s Sophie Peel reported how a group of citizens proposed to repair the tennis courts at their own expense, only to have permission for the volunteer project reversed by the parks department.

Fed up with only half of Sellwood Park’s tennis courts being usable, the retirees of the PDX Pickleball Club raised $9,000 of their own money to repair the courts and, in alignment with Parks and Rec’s eventual plans for the property, convert them to pickleball courts.

Two weeks into their work, Parks and Rec ordered them to stop. They were told they would need to pay $1,000 to apply for a permit and then an additional $2,500 per week in rent while the repairs were being undertaken.

We’re entering an era of do-it-yourself government. We have people filling in their own potholes. We have businesses hiring their own armed security. Now we have people volunteering to maintain neighborhood parks they want to use. If the bureaucrats won’t do the jobs taxpayers hire them to do, they should at least get out of the way when we try to do them ourselves.

Stew Robertson is a Research Associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

Note: This article was updated to correct the source.

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Comments 3

  1. Avatar for Richard


    5:16 pm - August 6, 2021

    It has been a shame but a rotating group, of mostly seniors, from Portland have had to go to Beaverton to find public Tennis Courts (provided by Tualitin Hills Parks) all this covid-summer. Our own city won’t maintain courts while Tualitin Hills maintains numerous courts and provides free parking unlike Portland who charges for parking in Washington Park (even if the courts are un-usable)

    Portland Commissioners really do not care what residents want and need. A further example is they unanimously voted to spend over $50 million dollars, with overwhelming opposition from residents, neighborhood groups, even an ex Governor and Congressman, to remake the South Park Blocks, which we all love, into a concept park that no one wants. The City is all but inviting residents to move Beaverton or Hillsboro.

  2. Avatar for Glenn Gailis

    Glenn Gailis

    11:02 am - August 11, 2021

    Again, Portland needs a change in leadership. I just hope it is not too late. The once beautiful Portland, Oregon is now covered with graffiti and looking more and more like a garbage dump. I have said this before that my wife and I used to live in this once beautiful city and now we have no desire to live there or visit Portland. What are you doing with the $48 million in increased taxes? Portland is now an eyesore. Soon, I expect, the city will be infested with rats as well. You’re reputation is rapidly spreading throughout America. Please seek out better, qualified leaders as time is running out.

  3. Avatar for Marina


    2:01 pm - August 11, 2021

    Pickleball? Pickleball! PICKLEBALL!!!!!
    What, tennis is too dangerous? Too difficult? Too White? First, every penny of the money Portland has been going to changing signage for every high school in Portland, giving them all new names so as to eradicate all trace of Portland. This includes a scaled back Rose Gardens, almost to the point of disappearance, the abollishment of The Rose Parade and all other parades, except I bet for the Gay Pride Parade…… the destruction of the original Downtown pretending the the Pearl is downtown now?
    And there is absolutely NO REASON to change the tennis regulation lines they are easily adaptable to play pickleball on, possibly marking things like BLUE or PINK or other color for other games. Just like thousands of cities have drawn a Basketball shooting area on one end or the other for the Young People. Tennis has been artificially made to look obsolete by stopping the teams in the high schools, as they have done for other sports they don’t approve of. Like baseball was completely eradicated from our state because Portland powers that be wanted to be one of the first American Cities to have a Soccer Team competing nationally. Because SOCCER is a “world class” sport, whereas Baseball is only the National Passtime beloved across the country. I am soooooooooo tired of political hacks with no lives of their own doing whatever they want with our money.

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