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PORTLAND -- Hundreds of people living in east Portland will soon have two new parks where they can gather and play.

One will be built next to Shaver Elementary School, at 3701 NE 131st Place, and it will cover 16 acres. The other will be built on a 4-acre plot near Northeast 106th Avenue and Halsey Street.

The city hopes these new projects will help draw neighbors out of their homes so they can get to know each other better.

The 16-acre plot will become Beech Park. It will feature an off-leash dog area, bike paths, community gardens, ball fields and more. The other one, Gateway Park, will be smaller, but will include a plaza and picnic areas as well as a skate park.

The two parks will cost just over $12 million. The money will come from fees paid by developers, who are building again now that the economy is recovering.

The announcement is great news for advocates like Linda Robinson, who has pushed for new parks for 25 years.

We need places for people to gather, she said. You can t build community without opportunities for people to come together and do fun, interesting things. So this allows us to do that.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz said the two parks were chosen because they will serve a combined 1,700 households who do not currently have parks nearby.

Construction is expected to start about two years from now.

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KGWreporter Pat Dooris contributed to this report.

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