City Council approves plan to connect Portland Art Museum's two - KPTV - FOX 12

City Council approves plan to connect Portland Art Museum's two buildings

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(Courtesy: Portland Art Museum) (Courtesy: Portland Art Museum)

The Portland City Council has approved a plan to connect the Portland Art Museum's two buildings.

The plan is controversial, as pedestrian, bicycle, and disability rights advocates say it will block the public passageway between the buildings.

The Portland Art Museum is split between two buildings on two separate blocks, with only an underground passage connecting them. It has been a challenge, especially for those with disabilities to navigate between the two buildings.

On Wednesday, the Portland City Council voted to approve an ordinance that would allow the museum to raise money to build a constructed passageway that would connect the two buildings, making it much easier to navigate between them.

However, the pavilion would also block the plaza between the two buildings along Madison Street. That area is a popular passage those using Portland's Streetcar and traveling to and from the park blocks and the downtown area.

In April, the museum went in front of the city council to ask for a change in the ordinance to allow it to build a structure that would be open to pedestrians during business hours, but would block the eight foot planned thoroughfare at night.

That proposal didn't go over well with some who wanted open passage in that spot.

The city council on Wednesday approved the decision with some revisions, including more open hours for the path.

“We heard discussions around lighting,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said at Wednesday morning's city council session. “We heard discussion around security and the museum has agreed to keep the hours of public access from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., which I think addresses a lot of the public access issues.”

The plan is still in the early stages, but they plan to call it the Rothko Pavilion.

The art museum still has to raise about $20 million dollars for construction to start, but now it has the go-ahead from the city.

Next up, they'll have to go through the Landmark Commission, because the building is a historical landmark.

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