By Kathy Crabtree | Contributing Writer
A recent 4-2 vote by the Portland Public School Board went to Albina Sports Program to move forward with their plan to build a new sports complex. The sports complex would be located on the former Whitaker Middle school site in Fernhill Park’s southern border, off of NE 42nd and Killingsworth. Several other proposals had been discussed including a community center, featured in both February and March issues of Concordia News.
Albina Sports Program, a local nonprofit, was established in 1965 by Phil Walden, a coach and teacher who worked to support diversity in sports and the athletic endeavors of the community.
Among the 3000-plus alumni involved in Albina Sports’ programs are 225 All-Americans; a title given to outstanding U.S. athletes competing at the collegiate and secondary school levels. The new sports complex would support the organization’s mission by providing multiple amenities to improve athletic skills including an indoor running track, a soccer field, basketball and volleyball courts, four baseball fields, a 400-meter track, and a one-mile cross-country running path.
Gary Hollands is the current executive director of Albina Sports Program. Though Hollands abstained from the vote, he also sits on the school board. Critics of the decision are concerned about this conflict of interest and the fact that the plan is estimated at costing $175 million.
The three-level plan includes a lower parking garage, retail spaces for new businesses and a walkable streetscape along NE 42nd Avenue. It focuses on the southside main entrance to the complex accessed through a one-way road – Phil Walden Lane, honoring Walden’s leadership and mentorship. Skylights would provide natural light and a green roof would collect and filter rainwater for the use of the building’s plumbing system. Solar panels would produce a portion of electrical needs.
Architect John Carhart states the goal is to “create a place for kids to become immersed in sports so that they can learn the things that will benefit them later in life: teamwork, cooperation, and leadership.”
Kathy is a recent transplant from the Midwest and, as she reports in CNews, things are a lot different here.