The Foster Green EcoDistrict is proposing to create a master plan for Laurelwood Park, which now sits somewhat underutilized at the corner of SE Holgate, Foster, and 63rd. Presenting this proposal at last night’s Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association meeting, the EcoDistrict’s co-chair, Ryan Givens, explained Foster Green’s desire to improve Laurelwood Park as part of their task to enhance the environmental and economic vitality of the Foster Corridor. Presumably, the new master plan would lead to enhanced green and open space in the neighborhood.
According to Givens, the proposal would include three public engagement sessions in which community feedback would help determine a concept plan, as well as cost estimates. The process would begin with the help of volunteer designers and consultants, and then proceed to an engagement with the PDC, Parks and Rec, and other city bureaus.
While all this is fine and good, why Laurelwood Park?
The need for enhanced green and open space is obvious in outer SE Portland. But does Laurelwood Park need improving? Surely this is a subjective question, and it’s clear that there are less-improved and less green areas all along Foster. And even though the early stages of this proposal are built around volunteer time and planning, the creation of a master plan and ultimate build out of it would require resources down the road. And since Foster Green has limited resources as is, it’s curious that an already-developed park would be the recipient of such focus while so many bleak corners of Foster are in need of attention. So while the thought of an improved park is nice in theory, it does become a question of equity and proper allocation of resources.
At this point, though, no funding is being directed to the project. And for this reason, there’s no harm in exploring what improvements (if any) can be made. And if those improvements lead to the preservation of the trees that are already there, but somehow manage to create a more accessible and engaging park…great. Let’s just hope it doesn’t hinder Foster Green’s ability to enhance the whole of Foster Road with similar projects.