EUGENE, Ore. — After the closure of the controversial homeless camp Whoville and the rejection of a new site near The Science Factory, some city councilors think they’ve found a decent place for a new city-approved homeless site. That site is near the BMX bike track near Autzen Stadium.
Councilor George Brown made the suggestion during Wednesday afternoon’s work session. He says he didn’t make a motion because he wanted his fellow councilors to scout the area out for themselves. So we did the same, speaking with park regulars about how they felt about the new option on the table.
The idea is having mixed reviews.
“I don’t think it’s a problem. It just depends on how they leave the area,” said Eugene resident Tony Brandt.
“On the one hand, I think it’s really important to have a place for the homeless population of Eugene to stay, and I know that that has been a contentious issue that’s been discussed for a while…but as someone who walks through here a lot, I guess I’d be concerned with my walks early in the morning and late at night as it’s dark,” said nearby resident Eleanor Wakefield.
And that point–the safety issue is what hit home to many folks we ran into.
“I think where they had it was pretty good because it was out on a busy street where there’s people that if something happened they could call the police,” said nearby resident Madison Pyle.
“You know there might be some element of insecurity I think. And I’m not saying people who are homeless shouldn’t have a place to stay, but I’m not sure if this would necessarily be the right place for it,” said Eugene resident Lindsay Smith.
Most felt for the homeless, but they wondered if setting up more camps over services was the right way to deal with the matter.
“I understand people fall on hard times, but the camps that they had before–the Whoville camps and all that–it kind of gave an excuse for people to come to Eugene and be homeless,” said Eugene resident Eric Pickar.
Members of the Emerald Valley BMX Board, the group that leases the bike park, told us they’re not sure this is the best idea either. They say it could increase the issues they already have with the homeless passing through. They hope the city council will get their input before making any decisions.