After helping to bring a popular food truck, a piece of public art doubling as an enormous bench, chairs and tables, and various free community events to Congress Square Park in recent weeks and months- the Friends of Congress Square Park have just announced that now free Wi-Fi is available in the controversial public space.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, just with the simple addition of the food truck and the bench, the park has started to breathe new life. Now that the tables, chairs and Wi-Fi are added the park is almost unrecognizable from last summer when Rockbridge Capital commandeered much of the space for their construction equipment and porta-potties.
In one of the weirder occurrences during the roughly two year fight between the city of Portland and park activists, a PAC called “Forward Portland” has been formed recently to promote the sale of the park to Rockbridge.
Fellow BDN blogger Chris Busby has covered the formation and mission of the PAC in some hard hitting recent pieces. Unfortunately the group isn’t simply promoting their cause, based on Busby’s coverage it’s apparent that they are resorting to outright lies to get the results they want on the June 10 public vote.
On the other side of the debate, the Friends of Congress Square have focused on proving how easy it is to turn the park around by offering simple things to do there like eat, sit, and chat.
According to Frank Turek, president of the Friends of Congress Square, the addition of the free Wi-Fi doesn’t simply give people another thing to do at the park, it also sets the space apart from all others in Portland, “To think that all it took was a friends of the park group to make things happen here. This is the first outdoor municipal free wifi spot in the city, as far as I know it’s the first in the state.”
Proponents of the sale of the park rant and rave about the perceived “blight” in Congress Square Park, but as anyone can see- all it takes is a few simple, community oriented changes to help liven things up and create a more inviting space for everyone.