Congress Sq. Park Opening 5/1; Westin Adds Culinary Presence.

A New Sign Installed at the Park Was Designed by Frank Turk.

A New Sign Installed at the Park Was Designed by Artist Patrick Corrigan.  Frank Turek, FoSCP Board Member Spearheaded the Project. ( Photo by Bree LaCasse.)

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 2,586)

The historic Westin Hotel expects to have a culinary presence at  Congress Sq. Park sometime in June, according to Jeffrey Burrell, General Manager of the upscale location in downtown Portland.  “The Patio at Congress Square Park” still needs  permits from the City to allow an extension of the Westin’s own CSquared restaurant to patrons of the Park as well as guests of the Westin Hotel.  It is expected that the permit approval will be on the city council’s agenda on June 6th, Assuming the permits are granted, the  opening of the “Patio” will come as soon after that as is physically possible. The Westin is also a corporate sponsor for the Park.

General Manager Burrell told that three meals a day are planned at the Patio. They will be served seven days a week. A special menu, moderately priced, is currently being created by the Hotel Chef. No food trucks will be allowed on the Park property itself, but there will be one on the street according to Burrell. An “exclusionary”  or no-competition clause is part of the agreement he said.  Burrell said he has been working with David LaCasse President of the Park Board and city employee Troy Moon on the details – that’s where the devil hides!

However, Bree LaCasse, newish executive director, of the Friends of Congress Square Park has a different view of the situation.  She stated emphatically  in a series of emails to that there has been no discussion between the Westin and the non-profit on whether or not food trucks will be permitted in the Park  Furthermoe,  Bree made it clear that the Park does want  food trucks in the Park. Stakeholders are working on it now to determine where in the Park a food truck will be located she emailed  It will happen she insisted. How will this impasse be resolved?  Is this a deal buster between the two parties?

In January the Board issued an open call for programming ideas and received a robust response.  That resulted in a partnership once again with Portland Summer Films which includes numerous movies at dusk on Sunday afternoons. There will be a dramatic increase in  children’s activities on a daily basis said Bree , who was hired as a part-time executive director of the Park in February. A new and important feature of the children’s programming is a science experiment segment . (A  sound technician, also a long-time volunteer, was  hired part-time as well).

This season’s official opening of Park activities kicks off on Sunday, May 1st.  The Second Annual May Day Celebration begins at 1:00 pm and runs through 4:00 pm.  A family-friendly event, there will be colorful May Poles, games, crafts, folk dancing and much more according to Roseanne Graef, another long-time volunteer at the Park.  (She is a past president of the West End Neighborhood Association of which Ian Jacobs is currently president). Come and help shed those winter shackles and see your neighbors and friends at the Park!

All activities at the Park are free to the public.  FOCSP received a $25,000 grant from the Quimby Family Foundation this year to support its programs and administration.  The Park  also depends on corporate sponsorships, as well as individual donations for its programming.  As mentioned previously herein, the Westin is a corporate sponsor..

David LaCasse continues to be  the President of the Friends of Congress Square Park.