Portland Parks & Recreation and Portland Parks Foundation Announce Legacy Emanuel Medical Center Donation to Dawson Park Water Feature

News Release from: Portland Parks & Recreation
Posted: May 8th, 2013 1:26 PM
Photo/sound file: http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/2013-05/1399/64094/2013_Dawson_Park_Water_Feature_Rendering.pdf (Attached: Dawson Park water feature proposed rendering in both JPG and PDF format. Courtesy: Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland, OR)

$200,000 Committed Towards Much-Anticipated Interactive Water Play Feature

(Portland, OR) -

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), the non-profit Portland Parks Foundation, and Legacy Emanuel Medical Center are proud to announce that PP&R's historic Dawson Park will benefit from a $200,000 Legacy Emanuel donation. The funds will be dedicated to a new water feature at the soon-to-be-renovated park, which encompasses just over two acres at N. Stanton St & Williams Ave.

The water feature is one of several opportunities offered in Dawson Park's upcoming redesign, which was shaped through extensive community input and aims to celebrate the park's history. The multimillion dollar makeover will encompass numerous improvements, including interpretive panels which tell the history of the park, an important center of Portland's African-American community. The interactive water feature is seen as a vital and unique play element for the community. It was originally suggested by neighbors during extensive public involvement, and heavily supported (see attached rendering).

In the last two years, Portland Commissioner Nick Fish has partnered with Legacy Emanuel on a number of projects including the donation earmarked towards the fountain.

"We're delighted to see yet another successful public-private partnership coming to fruition," said Fish. "The generous gift from Legacy Emanuel will greatly add to the amenities and improvements at Dawson Park, and will be a neighborhood treasure for generations to come."
Other features involved in renovations will be a large central lawn, an expanded and fenced children's playground with new play equipment, new public art, flowering plants, new and more picnic areas and barbeque grills, lighted pathways and bike racks.

"I was born at Legacy Emanuel," says Joe Nunn, a longtime neighbor and community activist. "I grew up near the park, still live here, and dedicate my time to this community. As a kid, I was in childcare at St. Martins, where they would take us to Dawson Park three times a week. Dawson Park was the central gathering place in the community, after church, after school - there was always music in the park. The park was and is an extension of my home. I am thrilled that Dawson Park is being redeveloped, and people are working to make it a vibrant part of the community once again."

The stairs and ramp around Dawson Park's gazebo are being widened to provide ADA access and more space for performer-audience interaction during summer concerts. The existing basketball court, shelter and restrooms will remain in place. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2013.

"I'm ecstatic about the renewal of Dawson Park as an important green space in inner northeast Portland," says neighbor Donny Adair. "I grew up just around the corner from the park. I lived there until I went to college, and after the death of my grandparents who raised me; I lived there for several years with my family. While growing up in the 1950's and 1960's, this park meant everything to us. As toddlers we used the swings and jungle gym. As we got older we played softball, ping-pong and tetherball. My older brother even worked several years as park host, helping us to learn arts and crafts. It was a safe place to play from dawn till dusk under the watchful eye of neighbors and citizens."

"Legacy Emanuel's donation towards the water feature is inspired by the hospital's commitment to the community we have been a part of for more than a hundred years," says Chief Administrative Officer, Lori Morgan, M.D., MBA.

"Dawson Park is vital part of our neighborhood," adds Dr. Morgan. "We are thrilled to collaborate in the improvement of this long-time community asset. The water feature will provide children and adults alike with a new way to be active and enjoy the park."

"The fountain is a great investment in the local community and will bring more children and families to Dawson Park. It will provide a very unique kind of recreation," says PP&R Director Mike Abbaté. "Whether you come to Dawson for a picnic, play, or a Sunday stroll--after these renovations--you will come to a re-energized park, one that engages the community and its children and families more deeply. This park is treasured and has a ton of history, and what we are doing today is about making more history."

The total park renovations, estimated at $2.1 million, are designed to restore the park as a key community gathering space by making it more welcoming, safer and attractive. Portland Development Commission (PDC) is working with PP&R on the improvement project.

"Today's announcement is about Portland's legacy," said Nick Hardigg, Executive Director of the Portland Parks Foundation, the fiscal sponsor of Legacy Emanuel's gift. "Our parks system is the result of 160 years of community commitment. This generous gift from Legacy Emanuel Medical Center extends that tradition, helping Dawson Park to reinforce the history and greatness of the Eliot neighborhood."

"Sustaining and enhancing Dawson Park is great for Portland residents," adds Donny Adair, the longtime neighbor. "I can recall when Robert Kennedy spoke at the park just days before he was assassinated. There have been numerous public rallies, and Dawson Park has been the beginning or end of countless marches for social change, peace, freedom and justice in our community. Thank you to all of those who have been working to revive Dawson Park and to those who are contributing to enhancement of this vital space."

About Dawson Park

Dawson Park is named in honor of an Episcopal minister, the Rev. John Dawson, who was an advocate of child welfare and civic improvement in the 1920s. The space was once a cow pasture and then a ballfield used by the Immaculate Heart Church and School. It was also a frequent stopping place for small circuses and medicine shows.

The gazebo in the park was built in 1978 to showcase the 120 year-old cupola salvaged from the Hill Block Building, once a cornerstone of the old Albina commercial district and an informal gathering place for the African-American community.
Currently the park features a basketball court, disabled access play area, disabled access restroom, paved paths, a picnic shelter and tables, a reservable picnic site, children's playground, stage, public art, and volleyball court.

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