Portland man backhoes city park

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Northwest Portland man said the city isn’t doing anything to protect his property next to Forest Park from flooding. So he recently went onto the park’s property to deal with the problem himself — and illegally created the damage the city is now trying to fix.

A culvert is clearly visible coming off a steep slope of Forest Park. It runs down through one area and into a clearing where the Adams Community Garden sits.

A culvert in Forest Park in Northwest Portland, August 31, 2016 (KOIN)

People who garden there say the water runoff will put several dozen garden plots at risk when the rains hit hard in the fall and winter.

The storms and floods from last December are what prompted the property owner — who asked not to be named by KOIN 6 News — to take the action he did. By phone, he said he simply cleared an area where a large cedar tree fell and blocked the park’s original culvert flow.

He added that before he cleared the cedar and other debris, water that would have flushed out down in one area was diverted to another and ended up running onto his property.

This fallen cedar blocked a culvert in Forest Park in Northwest Portland, August 31, 2016 (KOIN)

But, he said, before he did anything he sent a letter to Commissioner Amanda Fritz on July 28. In that letter, he laid out his plan to divert the blocked ditch with a backhoe. The letter also claims that earler this year he unsuccessfully tried to reach the Portland Parks Department multiple times about the problem.

Parks Department officials told KOIN 6 News their first contact with the man is that letter — but nothing before.

Officials said they understand his frustration but it’s no excuse for “doing unpermitted work on public land, like he did here.”

Neither the city — which manages this community garden and Forest Park — nor the property owner wanted to talk on-camera about the situation.

Both sides told KOIN 6 News they hope the matter can be quickly resolved.

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