Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood is traditionally one of the most underserved and economically fraught in the Portland area—and, according to Portland Parks and Recreation, one of the most park-deficient.
Now, the neighborhood will have one of the biggest parks in town. Location on NE 72nd Avenue just north of Killingsworth, the 25-acre Cully Park is set to officially open to the public this Saturday, June 30, with an all-day party.
In addition to a youth soccer field and wide-open play areas, the new park has a community garden, an off-leash dog area, and a Native gathering garden in its southeastern corner. There, a medicine wheel mound that elevates visitors to a view of Mount St. Helens and Mt. Hood. Adjacent is an open field meant for spiritual dances and ceremonies.
According to 2.ink Studio’s Jonathan Beaver, a lead designer of the park, this field is meant to be a tribute to Native communities that used to occupy the land. “It’s a place that connects the site to the larger landscape,” he says.
For local nonprofit Verde, which spearheaded the Cully Park development, the project turned trash to treasure, quite literally. The former 25-acre landfill is now a public gathering space.
“I’ve done literally thousands of projects, and this is definitely one I’m the most proud of in terms of what benefit it will provide to the community,” says Verde's Ron White.
Cully Park’s history goes back almost two decades. The city purchased the lot in 2000, with the hopes of turning it into a park. But a lack of funds put the project on hold indefinitely until 2008, when Verde created the Let Us Build Cully Park coalition. More than just fundraising, the local nonprofit incorporated community voices in the development process.
“There’s been extraordinarily high representation of minority- and women-owned contracting firms in this workforce. There’s scores of sources that chipped in to make this happen, so it’s an absolute community story at every level,” White says.
Verde, Portland Parks and Recreation, Gov. Kate Brown, and Sen. Ron Wyden will attend the grand opening, which will also feature live music, Native American storytelling, and a live screening of the Portland Timbers–Seattle Sounders soccer match.