Posted by: jesserad | February 26, 2010

Is Washington-Jefferson Park Any Safe Place for Children to Play?

-Written and video by Jesse Radonski

Skate Park for young and old might be safer than playground in Eugene.

I recently revisited the Washington-Jefferson Street Park in Eugene, OR to shoot some video footage of the environment. As you can see in the video, although it was a cool sunny day, there were no children around the playground. As a matter of fact, the only child I saw was one that looked to be in his early teens shooting hoops with an older gentleman in the basketball courts. I explain this because one of the main concerns with some Whiteaker residents is the removal of the playground to replace it with a proposed skate park. Is the playground really safe enough for children, though? Should a playground that is unsafe remain unattended in part because of the main problem-people who occupy the park now, or should it be removed for a skate park that could rectify this problem?

I’ve blocked most of these people behind pillars in the video but you can see their packs and blankets scattered about. One main reason why I believe a skate park will actually make a difference is because there will actually be people who will go there to use it. But there are some conditions that should be met, should the park go in, to make sure that the homeless and the drug users don’t continue to loiter in the new skate park. The results at the Venice Beach Skate Park show that if there isn’t some sort of security, volunteer or by police, drug use or vandalism can and probably will happen. Another issue will be the lighting. As of right now, the lighting is pretty poor but if it’s not improved then there could be issues such as what happened at the Vancouver Swift Skate Park where a couple was mugged. Fortunately, as of the final plan meeting that happened at the Downtown Public Library in January, Emily Proudfoot of the Eugene Parks and Recreation Department said that there would need to be better lighting under the bridge.

Overall, there’s no “one answer” to solving the problem with the people who contribute to this crime-ridden area. Some would say that the outlawing of the sale of malt liquor helped contribute to the decline of crime in this area and is something that Portland, Oregon’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement is looking in to. Regardless, this isn’t any safe place for children to be playing in sand.

Links:

The Rattler – http://therattler.org/oten-feb.html

Examiner Venice article – http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-7575-LA-Skateboarding-Examiner~y2009m10d17-Homeless-invade-Venice-Beach-Skate-Park-as-LAPD-bans-VSA-volunteer-night-watch

The Colombian Vancouver Swift article – http://www.columbian.com/news/2010/feb/17/crime-rises-after-dark-at-vancouvers-swift-skatepa/

KATU malt liquor article – http://www.katu.com/news/business/85055847.html

SW Portland KATU article – http://southwestportland.katu.com/content/city-limit-beer-types-less-street-drinking

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