From the July/August edition of the Beaumont-Wilshire newsletter:
Friends of Wilshire Park begin improvement projects
by Tiffney Townsend
Several months ago, Friends of Wilshire Park formed to enhance the open space at the heart of the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood. Now the group’s first two projects are underway. The first will be the NatureSpace, a native plant habitat in an underused area of the park. The Friends were awarded a grant of $9125 from the Community Watershed Stewardship Program (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/43077). CWSP is a program that issues grants to projects that improve the health of the community and our water systems. The NatureSpace will install native plants which will secure topsoil, improve biodiversity, provide food and habitat for birds, and enhance the beauty of the park. Boulders and logs will be placed to provide seating and a path will curve through the NatureSpace creating a lush detour for park visitors.
A more long-term project that the Friends will work on is the children’s play area. Wilshire Park offers one of the only play areas in Northeast Portland for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, but the equipment is over 25 years old and much of it is broken and splintered. Little children still enjoy playing there, but the Friends feel strongly that this heavily used space needs to be modernized. At the group’s May meeting, Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz heard concerns and offered insight and advice. Commissioner Fritz explained that the city’s current parks budget focuses on developing parks in areas of the city without any green space, leaving no funds or staff time for Wilshire Park. Both Commissioner Fritz and Community Relations Manager Jennifer Yokum, who was also in attendance, gave advice on how a community fundraising effort might work. They also advised that the Friends coordinate with the Central Northeast Neighbors Coalition, who would have an interest in making improvements to dangerously worn-out play equipment at the park.
The June meeting’s agenda included speaking with city representatives about a bond initiative that might fund improvements to the children’s play area, finalizing plans for the NatureSpace, and identifying simple projects such as repainting the signposts in the off-leash dog area and park cleanup days. The Friends are also seeking volunteers to clear and plant out the Nature Space. Additional donations are also being accepted to add even will mean more plants to this project. Visit www.friendsofwilshirepark.org to learn more.