Dear Commissioner Fritz,
The MLC Community has taken the time to write to you because we are deeply concerned about potential problems in Couch Park and specifically about our play structure. There are two issues that we have concerns about – the play structure and park access for the children. We have been told by Parks and Recreation that there is a real possibility that the MLC play structure could be demolished and that there is currently no funding allocated to replace it. For the NW neighborhood that utilizes Couch Park and for the MLC Community, that is an unacceptable outcome. Currently, our children’s access is limited to playing on the play structure, the brick through-street and the MLC parking lot.
Though we are happy that Couch Park is well loved and utilized by the community, we are concerned that the history of the park has been forgotten and its purpose as a play ground for the school has been lost amid pressures for other utilizations. Though Couch Park is managed by Portland Parks and Recreation, it continues to be PPS property and the needs of the children both of the school and community should be prioritized. There are many interests that the park needs to accommodate, and we believe that they should be considered in light of the ownership, history and purpose of the park. A good example of this is the denial of the proposed MLC Learning Garden last year, because it would have required changes to the dog park. This issue should not have ended the option for MLC, but should have opened a conversation with all the stakeholders.
We have serious concerns that decisions about the play structure will be made without notifying and engaging the MLC Community of parents, children, staff and our after-care/camp program (KCLC) and the neighborhood community. MLC and KCLC are heavy utilizers of Couch Park on a year round basis. We are requesting that we continue to be included as significant stakeholders in the process.
MLC students and staff designed the original play structure that is currently in place. Couch Park was a baseball field for the school when Bud Clark went to school in the building. We are a Kx12 school that needs a structure that meets the needs of our diverse community. For all of these reasons and the many more Couch Park is essential to our school. Please work with us to ensure that our children have not only the play structure, but also have increased access to the only green space that is available to them as part of their Portland Public School.
We are ready and willing to talk with you and to work with you to assure that Couch Park is a functioning park for our children.
MLC PTSA Board and MLC Community