A crowdfunding test for Gateway Green bike park project

A crowdfunding test for Gateway Green bike park project

A tour of East Portland-1.jpg

The Gateway Green parcel, as seen from the I-205 path looking south toward the Gateway Transit Center.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This Thursday, the State of Oregon will try something unprecedented: They’ll turn to crowdfunding. The guinea pig is Gateway Green, a project that will develop 38 acres of vacant land in east Portland — once the site of Rocky Butte Jail — into a bike park and world-class public space.

We first shared the vision for this project back in May 2008 when we sat down with developer Ted Gilbert and east Portland uber-advocate Linda Robinson. Since then, the project has garnered support from dozens of public and private partners and elected officials.

Backers of the project have also just released this promo video titled, Build Gateway Green

With the recent transfer of the property from the Oregon Department of Transportation (it’s adjacent to I-205 and I-84) to the City of Portland Parks & Recreation bureau, Gilbert and Robinson are moving the project into high gear. That’s where crowdfunding comes in.

Oregon Solutions, the governor-appointed body that is working to move the project forward, has decided to use crowdfunding site Indiegogo for the fundraising effort. The campaign will launch this Thursday, September 5th. Their goal will be $100,000 and the campaign is just as much about marketing and momentum building as it is about cold, hard cash. Oregon Solutions Project Manager Jim Jacks tells us they’re counting on a big response to the campaign in order to “Build a reservoir of support to get the thing built over time.”

According to Jacks, the money raised from crowdfunding will be spent on trail designers and landscape engineers who will bring the parcel of land into a “shovel-ready” state. Highly detailed and finalized plans are a key requirements for two reasons: to qualify for government and/or private foundation grants; and to attain the permits neccessary to break ground.

But Gateway Green backers are in a tricky place. They’ve been asking for public support without having anything to show for it for many years now. It’s the classic chicken-and-egg scenario: They need to start building the trails and new public amenities in order to spur the public’s enthusiasm; but they need that same public support to raise money to begin construction.

Why should we support this project? Here’s how Ted Gilbert described it in an email to supporters last week: “Gateway Green will provide a free, public area for walking, running, biking and picnicking, but also host national and international athletic events, and be an attractor for bicycle tourism.” And off-road cycling advocate and member of the Northwest Trail Alliance Tom Archer says, “This new park promises to be a fantastic resource for Portland cyclists and the region… we anticipate the park will include singletrack, gravity, BMX and cyclocross elements. If you like to ride on two wheels, there’ll be something for you.”

This project will need millions of dollars to be fully built out. While the crowdfunding campaign will raise just a small chunk of that, backers see it more as an opportunity to show the powers-that-be that the public is behind this project and that it’s worth putting real money into.

Check out GatewayGreenPDX.org for more info and watch the Indiegogo campaign page on Thursday for your opportunity to donate.

— Read more Gateway Green coverage in our archives.

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