Page:Olmsted report on Portland, Oregon parks, 1903.djvu/20

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32
REPORT OF THE PARK BOARD

A political park commissioner will be apt to favor the determination of the number of and the selection of sites for parks that will gain him or his party the most votes, or that will please pecuniarily interested persons or corporations. He will usually preter to decide all such questions without expert advice, knowing that without such guidance he can surely decide according to his own interest and that of his party, while with it he may be hampered in securing what he wants done. He will favor the employment of experts if they must be employed, who will be subservient and "easy to get along with," and he will prefer a superintendent who will purchase supplies from the "right" dealer. He will want to grant licenses for all sorts of amusement concerns regardless of the park landscape, provided only they are likely to be popular and are run by the "right" men; and so on. As they know the public admire gaudy effects. they cover the park lawns with the most brilliantly colored foliage plants and park buildings with novel and conspicuous details painted with showy and contrasting colors. Naturally, with park commissioners of this type of mind, the higher beauties of nature and of art in the parks stand very little show to be preserved or created.

Parks should be kept out of politics not only by not having politicians appointed as park commissioners, but, remembering that "money is power," by taking the power of making the annual park appropriations from the city government by means of a law giving the park commission a certain minimum and maximum percentage of the total ot the assessors' valuation of the taxable property in the city, and providing for long-term loans for land purchases and short-term loans for improvements, each based on a percentage of the total of assessors' valuations of taxable property in the city and requiring compulsory issue by the city government in some cases, after they have been approved by a referendum in some cases. Additional voluntary appropriations by the city government may also be permitted by law.

TOPOGRAPHICAL CONDITIONS AFFECTING THE PARK PROBLEM OF PORTLAND.

Some of the conditions which control the problem of providing a complete system of parks and parkways for the City of Portland are as follows:

The city lies on both sides of the Willamette River, which ls spanned at present by four bridges. The smaller but older portion of the city is west of the river and occupies gently rolling ground, which rises with moderate rapidity to the base of high, rugged and very irregular hllls. This base of the hills forms almost a straight line and