Potluck in the Park finds new location after garage closure

The move is temporary

The Smart Park Garage on 9th and Stark is downtown Portland's only underground garage as seen on Aug. 31, 2017. (Google Street View)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Potluck in the Park — which serves free meals on Sundays — has found a temporarily new spot under the Hawthorne Bridge ramp after the closure of the O’Bryant Square SmartPark garage.

Potluck in the Park has served meals to anyone in need at O’Bryant Square every week for the 26 years, according to David Utzinger — one of the founders of Potluck in the Park.

Utzinger said the new location is far from ideal.

“However, it’s what we’ve been boxed into settling for. We’ve spent the last 10 weeks exploring other possibilities and trying to persuade a private property owner and PBOT to let us use other garages that we felt were safer alternatives. We failed,” Utzinger said.

According to Utzinger, Portland Parks and Rec offered them the space under the Hawthorne Bridge, but it’s only available until the end of February, so potluck meals will need to return to O’Bryant Square.

The O’Bryant Square garage is currently undergoing a structural analysis to assess the damage from many years of leaks during rain. The engineer’s report is due around the end of the year.

“We are hopeful that their report will either show that there is an easy solution or, as we suspect, that there is no immediate safety risk in use of the garage so that it can be reopened by March,” Utzinger said.

In the meantime, Potluck in the Park organizers are concerned for the safety of their guests traveling to and from their new location.

They urge able-bodied guests to use the Madison Street pedestrian on-ramp up to the Hawthorne Bridge then take the stairs down to the park in order to avoid Naito.