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Gateway Green gives East Portland an off-road park

Park lovers in East Portland got a big win this week when the city announced plans for a new off-road bike facility at Gateway Green.

Portland City Council on Wednesday unanimously authorized a land transfer for Gateway Green — the 25-acre island of unused land at the confluence of Interstate 205 and Interstate 84 — to the city from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The acquisition comes from $19,300 in system development charges, paid by developers to support the increased infrastructure required when homes and businesses are built. Tax dollars were not used.

City leaders and park advocates had long been imagining Gateway Green as a city park and recreation area.

“The location between I-205 and I-84 will boost Portland’s visibility as a world-class bike-friendly city, and is a tremendous use of the underutilized land," Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz says.

She notes the efforts of neighbors and cyclists, who have been pushing the project for several years.

East Portland neighbors Linda Robinson and Ted Gilbert have been spearheading the vision for the project, along with ODOT; Portland Parks & Recreation; Oregon State Parks; Metro; the city of Maywood Park; Gov. John Kitzhaber's office; and bike, environmental and neighborhood groups.

“'Patient persistence' — that's my personal motto," Robinson says. "And this is a perfect example of how patient persistence can pay off.”

The site will also enhance wildlife habitat and be a recreation spot for children, families and seniors.

Adds Parks Director Mike Abbaté: "Developing this site will strengthen our platinum bike city status and extend our reputation as a city that wisely converts 20th century transportation space into 21st century gathering spots that provide and promote health and recreation opportunities.”

Park leaders say two out of every five households in East Portland don't have easy access to a city park; in the rest of Portland four out of five households live within a half mile of a park or natural area.

The nonprofit Friends of Gateway Green project will now look to raise about $1.6 million by the end of 2015 to validate a Metro “Nature in Neighborhoods” grant.

Donations may be made at http://www.gatewaygreenpdx.org.