Recess just got a lot more exciting for the 430 students at Marysville K-8 School in Southeast Portland.
A new park — six years in the making — was dedicated Oct. 19 in a ceremony attended by project partners, students, teachers, community members, city Commissioner Randy Leonard and Portland School Board member Ruth Adkins.
“This park is a great example of what is possible when the school and community work together,” Adkins says. “It’s been a long road, but students and families will be enjoying this park for decades to come. PPS is so grateful to be the recipient of this incredible gift.”
During the day, only students at Marysville will use the park, which is on school grounds, at 7733 S.E. Raymond St. (map). But when school is out, the community is invited in to play.
The 3.35-acre space, which sits on property owned by PPS, was formerly asphalt, had deteriorating play structures and was largely closed off from the neighborhood by a fence. The new park encourages free-form play and interaction with nature.
It includes 30 new trees, a nature trail, soccer field (opening next year), covered pavilions and picnic tables, innovative play equipment, thousands of new plants, a hilly meadow, permeable pavement and climbing rocks: features designed to foster appreciation of nature, encourage imaginative play, allow outdoor teaching, draw in the community and have a low impact on the environment.
“We strived to create a nonprescriptive environment that leaves a lot up to interpretation and imagination,” says Renee VanderWeele, an architect with project partner MCM Architects. “For a lot of the play equipment, such as the mounds, there is no one way to use it — it’s not just walk up a ladder and slide down the other side. It’s open to the imagination.”
During tours a few days before the official opening, students couldn’t wait to run onto the mounds — a series of small, grassy hills — where they rolled, somersaulted or simply sprawled out on the grass.
Community members expressed strong support for the park throughout its creation. More than 250 neighbors helped review initial design documents, and many local businesses and professionals donated time and resources throughout construction.
The $1.4 million project was supported by Lents Urban Renewal District ($600,000) and the city of Portland ($365,000), with additional funds from Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Portland Parks & Recreation, PPM Energy and Kaiser Permanente. Portland Public Schools helped oversee construction but did not contribute funding.
“Without support from the city and the Portland Development Commission, children would still be playing on asphalt,” board director Adkins says. “Their contribution recognizes that our school facilities are important centers of community and help create vital and livable neighborhoods.”
Lead project partners included nonprofit organizations Rose Community Development Corp. and Impact NW. An advisory council created by former Marysville Principal Jacque Shayne and headed by Nancy Wilgenbusch, former president of Marylhurst University, and including a number of civic leaders, spent more than six years planning the park and raising funds.
In addition, project support was provided by MCM Architects, Otten Landscape Architects, BK Engineers, Otak, Cascade Designs, Williams and Dame Development, Ball Janik, Hoffman Engineers, KPFF Consulting Engineers and R&H Construction.
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