REDMOND, OR -- It was a close vote and a hard-fought battle, but Redmond’s Baker Park came out victorious, in the Portland Trailblazers-Moda Assist contest. After a one-month campaign, Redmond edged out two other cities in Oregon to win about $15,000 for a new all-abilities playground.
The final tally has not been released, but a day before the deadline, Redmond had over 33,000 online votes, compared to Dallas, with a over 32,000. Gresham had around 1,200. Redmond Parks Division Manager Annie McVay was surprised by the support. "I knew everyone was going to be excited, but I didn’t know how excited they were going to get and how much voting was going to go on. And then there was a little bit of controversy about people thinking that there were a lot of votes going to other communities. So, it was just a really crazy, fun roller coaster." At one point, the competition got so heated, officials decided to throw out thousands of duplicate votes
, "It’s amazing to me how often the community voted. And, when they did their recall, they took away about 50,000 votes; so, even though they weren’t counted in the end, that was how many times Redmond chose to vote, which was crazy."
Baker Park, located at 17th and Obsidian in southwest Redmond, was built in 1976. It's one of the city's oldest parks and has a play structure McVay says no longer meets current safety standards. And, she tells KBND News, other work is needed at the aging park, "It needs sidewalks, it needs complete new irrigation. So, there’s a lot of non- you know, not the play structure that you think about, but a lot of the infrastructure that you don’t think about." So, she says, the new playground will be just a small piece to a much larger project, totaling about $500,000. "This will be roughly $15,000 from the Moda Trailblazers Assist program, which is great. We’re also going to be applying for a grant this summer, so we’re looking for construction probably about this time next year."
With cuts proposed for Redmond's park system, McVay says the overwhelming response shows how much people care about these important neighborhood features, "I think the public starts to understand now that parks are typically underfunded in every city, because there’s just a lot of competing demands. But, the support that we got from the community has been amazing." She adds, "I think it just brought awareness to the park system that we haven't had in a while, too."
Now, the city needs to decide who gets to attend the upcoming Blazers game to accept their big prize, "They want to do a check award at their game on April first, so we’re trying to figure out who here at the city will go and accept that check, which will be really fun."