What began as an inspired idea for bringing an underused piece of property to life shared with neighbors over coffee has grow to become the Gateway Green initiative, a project that has since involved dozens of community activists, state and city agencies, local businesses and nonprofits and other stakeholders. The park was a work in process for more than a decade as a citizen-initiated project with economic, environmental and community building objectives.
Starting in 2005, Ted Gilbert, a Portland Realtor and member of a Gateway urban renewal citizen advisory committee, thought there could be a better use for the 38 areas of unused public land that was already connected to the Gateway area of East Portland. Ted shared his idea with his fellow committee members including Linda Robinson, who agreed with Ted’s vision of the potential for a park and a partnership was born. At the start of the project, the park property was owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Enthusiastic Gateway Green volunteers met with ODOT staff to learn more about the land and what it might be used for in the future. ODOT mentioned that many bicycle groups had inquired about using the site for off-road cycling activities.
In November 2007, ODOT officials gave the Gateway Green team permission to undertake a Visioning/Feasibility Study. A series of meetings were held with local interest groups, including member of the Gateway Urban Renewal Parks Subcommittee, the Gateway Urban Renewal Program Advisory Committee (PAC) and localized groups to learn more about the neighborhood and how the park could fulfill community needs. The team also held meetings with environmental groups and regulatory agencies, cycling enthusiasts, Tri-Met staff, Portland Parks and Recreation staff and the Mayor of Maywood Park.
On February 23, 2008, David Evans and Associates, Inc. facilitated a day-long design workshop. Forty-six passionate people, representing a wide variety of interests, attend the event on a sunny Saturday to share their ideas of Gateway Green. The results of that planning meeting is the Gateway Green Vision Plan.
Following the Vision Plan, then Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski designated Gateway Green as an Oregon Solutions program in 2009. Oregon Solutions, which develops sustainable solutions to community-based problems, led the project to a Declaration of Cooperation. The Declaration was signed by twenty-two stakeholder groups in December 2010 with a commitment by each as to how they would help to make Gateway Green a reality. That same year, Ted and Linda formed the Friends of Gateway Green (FoGG) as a (501(c)(3)) nonprofit corporation to support the development of the park. When funding efforts commenced in 2012, Oregon Solutions again helped FoGG update the Declaration of Cooperation to include forty stakeholder groups that agreed to support the project.
Recognizing the need for additional design work in order to seek major grant funds, FoGG launched a crowdfunding campaign in September 2013 on Indiegogo to assist with the associated costs. At the end of the five week campaign, the community helped FoGG meet and exceed the goal to raise $100,000. Those funds were used to contract with with David Evans & Associates, GreenWorks and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) for additional design work on the proposed new park.
In July 2014, the Metro Council awarded FoGG a $1 million Nature in Neighborhood capital grant, with the stipulation that another $2 match be raised over the next three years. Then in October, the same year, Portland Parks & Recreation closed on the purchase of the property from the Oregon Department of Transportation. Both achievements were significant milestones toward the development of the park.
With the campaign to raise the $2 million match for the Metro NIN grant wrapping up, in the fall of 2016, FoGG worked with Oregon Solutions on a second crowdfund campaign. This campaign raised approximately $100,000 for development of the park.