"You're next on the list, for what it's worth," promised Darlene Carlson, staff liaison for City Commissioner Jim Francesconi, at last Thursday's meeting of the Buckman Neighborhood Association. With Francesconi's office in charge of Portland's Parks & Recreation bureau (PPR), Carlson has been busy since ballot measure 26-34 passed two weeks ago. That initiative will raise $50 million for PPR over the next five years.

The list Carlson was referring to is a hotly contested catalogue of projects that PPR hopes to undertake. Suddenly, with an additional $50 million sloshing around PPR's budget, plans for community centers and expanded services no longer seem out of reach. Members of Buckman Neighborhood Association are hoping to get their hands on money to convert the former Washington High School into a community center on par with Dishman in Northeast Portland.

When voters approved ballot measure 26-34, they put an odd dilemma into effect for PPR: How to spend $50 million? The ballot measure approved a self-inflicted property tax. Over the previous year, the city's budget shrank, forcing PPR to trim jobs, shut down public pools and freeze any new services. Now, they're looking at ways to spend their money, and it's not as easy as it sounds.

First on the list is promised funding for skateboard parks. When budget cuts began a year ago, plans for two new skate parks were in place. Then, in May, another ballot measure proposing property tax hikes failed because not enough voters showed up. Now, PPR intends to provide $500,000 to the skateboard parks.

During the lull between ballot measures, even though the budget was uncertain, Portland Parents for Skaters organization (POPS) remained active, rallying neighborhood support behind the idea for a place to skate in Westmoreland Park. A location for a second park is still being negotiated.

by Andrew Dutterer