Members of the Portland community gathered at Dawson Park on Thursday, November 14, at 11:00 a.m. to celebrate the start of construction to restore the park as a key community gathering space while honoring its rich African-American history. The $2.6 million renovation project will make the park more welcoming and attractive, with an improved playground, interactive water play feature, barbeques, picnic tables and benches, and better lighting and accessibility.
Dawson Park, located between N. Vancouver and Williams avenues and N. Stanton and Morris streets, has served as an integral social, political and economic center for many communities – most notably, Portland’s African-American community. The neighborhood around Dawson once was the heart of Portland’s African-American population, and the new park design will recognize that heritage with double-sided cast-stone medallions designed by artist Isaka Shamsud-Din to be placed in a decorative fence surrounding the playground. One side will be inspired by traditional African Ndebele patterns; the other side will contain historic neighborhood remembrances.
“It is gratifying to see the beginning of dramatic and tangible park improvements,” says Michael Alexander, President and CEO of the Urban League of Portland. “It is important to deeply understand the history here, while still focusing on the future. We look forward to a tremendous new park and appreciate the commitment by the City and its partners to increase the quality of life here.”
Construction is expected to run from October 2013 through June 2014.