Governing Magazine reports on a very cool way it is being done in Portland.
Portlanders want a world-class off-road bicycling park. As it happens, there’s an ideal, unused 38-acre parcel of partially wooded land on the east side of the Oregon city. Portland doesn’t have the cash to develop such a park, but that’s not stopping the state. It’s testing a new kind of public-private partnership to move the project, known as Gateway Green, forward. If it’s successful, it could drastically change how environmental projects are funded by states and localities.
In September, via a governor-appointed body called Oregon Solutions, the state partnered with crowdfunding site Indiegogo—similar to Kickstarter—to raise $100,000 for Gateway Green. The money will turn the master plan into the schematic designs needed to obtain building permits and construction financing. More than money, the campaign is about building momentum for the project. It’s an opportunity for backers to show that Gateway Green is worth putting real money behind. As Oregon Solutions Project Manager Jim Jacks told Bike Portland, officials need to “build a reservoir of support to get the thing built over time.”
Online crowdfunding has been around for a little while. But it’s a new approach for governments, especially for environmental projects. Since the recession, revenue has primarily supported essential services; there hasn’t been extra for new parks, energy-efficient retrofits or renewable energies. So states and localities have had to get creative.