EUGENE, Ore. — It was an emotional scene Tuesday as Eugene residents pleaded to regain access to a beloved piece of land.
Lane County commissioners gave permission for a nonprofit to buy the 63-acre stretch of property.
Those opposed to the plan spoke out at a public hearing before the commission made its decision.
“Glass Bar Island has been a person sanctuary for my family away from the demands of daily life. As a college professor and professional and mother, I’d had the joy of meeting many of intellectuals at Glass Bar Island,” said Douglas County resident Briarlyn McFarland.
Of the residents who spoke Tuesday on Glass Bar Island, they all shared different stories. But their messages were very much the same: This area of land adds something to their lives, and they’re worried they won’t have access to it for much longer.
“Blocking off access to this land is more than just blocking off access to the Willamette River. It’s blocking off access to human communities. There’s a community and a real human heart and participation and people out there who really care about each other and the land,” said Eugene resident Billy Hatch.
There are “No Trespassing” signs are up, and people aren’t allowed to be there anymore. Now the county says the reason why they have it blocked off is because they can’t afford the upkeep for the area.
“The partnership with friends of Buford Park will actually make this more accessible in the future,” said Anne Marie Levis, Lane County spokeswoman.
County leaders say this isn’t about banning access and that the “No Trespassing” signs are only temporary while they try to figure out what to do with the area. And now that they have decided to allow Friends of Buford Park to move forward with buying and maintaining the land, the goal is safety and restoration.