Gresham’s competitive edge has always been our children and families, and we have worked very hard in recent years to deliver the amenities and services our families deserve. We are experiencing a renaissance in our schools, with improving graduation rates, and the largest rebuilding and school improvement boom in many years, thanks to the voter approval of school bonds.
Our focus on children and families has also resulted in the largest expansion of parks assets in Gresham’s history. Hogan Butte Nature Park immediately became a crown-jewel in Gresham’s parks system, and we were able to work with Gresham residents to deliver the Nadaka Nature Park, the Children’s Fountain at the Arts Plaza, the Gradin Sports Park, Tsuru Island, and new futsal courts across the City.
We created a Youth Advisory Council to bring voices from all of Gresham’s high schools into the City’s decision-making process, and held Gresham’s first ever Youth Summit to hear directly from young people about the issues important to them. Gresham has been on the forefront of youth involvement on the national level as well. I was recently honored to be appointed as the Chair of the National Youth Involvement Task Force with the US Conference of Mayors, to help amplify youth voices across the Country.
In the coming years, I am committed to doing everything possible to deliver the remaining playing fields and complete the community’s vision at Gradin Sports Park, create new, place-making playground equipment in Gresham’s parks, and begin planning and development of some of our long-neglected and undeveloped neighborhood parks as well.
The last few years also brought an unprecedented expansion in partner agencies coming to Gresham to help focus on our youngest residents, with an eye on inclusive recreation and prevention. These include the Boys and Girls Club, Latino Network, POIC, Friends of the Children, and Family of Friends mentoring, which we set up in the Office of Governance and Management at City Hall. My wife Alix and I also launched the Gresham Reads program, which collects donated children’s books from Gresham families, and distributes them at area restaurants, so that Gresham’s youngest residents can focus on early childhood literacy while enjoying a meal with their family. If they like the book, they are invited to take it home with them afterword.
What We’ve Done:
- Recent years have brought Gresham’s largest expansion in parks and recreation in the City’s modern history, delivered without having to create a new taxing district.
- We delivered Hogan Butte Nature Park, an incredible regional jewel, in part by scrapping for state and regional funding sources.
- We helped an outstanding group of volunteers deliver Nadaka Nature Park.
- We opened the Sports Park.
- We opened the Center for the Arts Plaza.
- We leveraged federal funding to build the Children’s Fountain at the Plaza.
- We completely rebuilt the City’s recreation program from nothing.
- Summer Kids in the Park, provided at Main City Park, Nadaka, and Red Sunset.
- Late night basketball for at-risk youth on Friday and Saturday nights at HB Lee Middle School and Friends of the Children.
- Regular futsal programming and tournaments, and a wide expansion of courts to play on across the City.
- Formed new partnerships with outstanding non-profits, bringing the Boys and Girls Club, Friends of the Children, and POIC to Rockwood, expanding opportunities for children and families.
- Opened up a non-profit mentoring program, Family of Friends, right in my office at City Hall, leveraging opportunity and bringing critical youth services to Gresham.