Last vestige of downtown pedestrian mall removed

EUGENE, Ore. - Downtown Eugene has changed in recent years, and Thursday the last piece of the old pedestrian mall was removed.

The ledge at the corner of Broadway and Willamette was left in place when Broadway reopened 12 years ago.

Now it's been removed.

It's a space local business people said attracted some unwanted behaviors.

"It was a magnet for drug dealing, and drug use, alcoholism," Todd Patopea, owner and operator of Taylor's Chuck Wagon across the street from the ledge.

"It's been a kind of uncomfortable, tense, relationship on that bench," said Brian Hebb, who owns Cowfish and manages Sizzle Pie, "and I'm glad to see it gone."

"The removal of the bench, although it seems subtle, I would imagine, that all of a sudden it's not so much of a focal point, so it'll kind of open it up for traffic," said Lloyd Madden, Manager at Fab Trol Systems Inc. directly next to the space.

The city is laying bricks and discussing possible options for the space.

"We've looked at either additional seating or possible bike racks," said Nan Laurence with the City of Eugene. "We're looking to see what the right element to go there now that we have the space back to the pedestrian realm."

Removal of the wall is just one page in the story of Downtown Eugene's revitalization. Locals said they've already seen a huge transformation.

"It's been really coming alive in the last couple years," Madde said. "I think some of the businesses coming in here has made a huge difference. I see more people who want to come down."

"It's so much better than it was," Hebb said. "It keeps heading in the right direction, there's really nothing but positive things to say, and I'm really delighted the city is heading in this direction."