Neighbors around North Portland's Peninsula Park Rose Garden are concerned that a large private donation—$50,000 from the Neil Kelly Company and Rejuvenation—has the city's parks department fast tracking a project to replace some of the old garden's brick stairs with ramps.

The Piedmont Neighborhood Association (PNA) first heard details of the project on July 25—though Portland Parks and Recreation has been working with the donors for months.

"Opportunity knocked on our door a few months ago," parks architect Richard Bosch explained at a second neighborhood meeting on August 9. "Working with the donors, we discovered in February that the people had an event. They wanted [the project] done by a certain time." Indeed, the donors are planning a company picnic on October 26, and want to announce details of the project then. Parks staff hopes to start looking for a contractor soon, so construction can start later this year.

But neighbors—who are on board with the basic idea of making the garden handicap accessible—want Portland Parks and Recreation to slow down and make sure the project is done right: "Given the impact of your project and the alteration to this historic site, I'm certain that you will agree that a cautious, patient approach will prevent any future regrets," PNA land use chair Brian Borrello wrote to city officials on August 6. Neighbors plan to meet with parks staff again later this month to discuss the project.

Parks Marketing and Business Development Manager Bob Schulz calls the project "a long overdue renovation" that's been on the neighborhood wish list for 10 years. Though the parks department has "a commitment to try and do this as soon as possible," plans aren't finalized, he adds. "We're happy for [neighbors] to be involved as we move forward."