On the latest edition of the Ink & Pine podcast, which I cohost along with Trent Gay and Cat Smith of Maine Digital Press, we spoke to District 2 Portland City Councilor David Marshall about the future of Congress Square.
Marshall, in case you’re one of the few Portlanders who hasn’t at least been casually following the debate over Congress Square, was one of three councilors to vote against the sale of the public space last fall and was a vocal supporter of the referendum to add new protections against such a sale.
That referendum, Question 1 on Portland’s June 10 ballot, was narrowly approved, meaning the proposed sale of about two-thirds of the 14,500-square-foot Congress Square is at least temporarily on hold. If private hotel investors RockBridge Capital LLC want to continue pursuing the purchase of the space — which they want in order to add some event space to the recently renovated former Eastland Park Hotel — they’ll need to win voter support in another citywide referendum in the coming months.
A representative of the hotel developers has said they’re not sure yet whether they’ll walk that gauntlet.
In our interview with David Marshall, he didn’t mince words. Marshall said a city task force charged with developing a plan to revitalize Congress Square was interrupted, in part, by the sale proposal. That task force — of which Marshall was a member — should be allowed to return to its work, he argued, and the city should invest in the space.
Among the ideas that the committee came up with to help add some life to the long overlooked urban square was a “water feature” — like a public fountain of some sort.
In the meantime, take a look through this gallery of urban fountains around the world and see whether you think any of them would look good in Portland’s Congress Square. Just for fun, put your vote in the comments below, if you feel so inclined.
(All of the above photos are from the Reuters news service unless otherwise specified.)