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'Make this uniquely Whiteaker': City, neighborhood look to revamp Scobert Gardens Park

The City of Eugene may try to replicate improvements in the downtown Park Blocks at a Whiteaker neighborhood park long plagued by illegal camping and drug use.Up for consideration: a $350,000 to $500,000 investment in Scobert Gardens Park. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - The City of Eugene may try to replicate improvements in the downtown Park Blocks at a Whiteaker neighborhood park long plagued by illegal camping and drug use.

Up for consideration: a $350,000 to $500,000 investment in Scobert Gardens Park.

City officials are meeting with the Whiteaker Community Council and other groups to find out what they want to see happen there.

Any physical changes to the park probably won’t happen until 2019, according to parks landscape architect Emily Proudfoot.

The city held a public meeting with Whiteaker residents Tuesday.

"What can the city do to program this space? What can the community do to help program this space?" Proudfoot said of the discussion. "There's just a ton of ideas out there about how to make this uniquely Whiteaker, and I love that."

The ideas run the gamut.

"They range from taking the park out," said Chris Gadsby with the Whiteaker Neighborhood Council, "to revamping the park to make it a lot safer."

Gadsby said the dog ban downtown last summer appeared to push drifers and people who are homeless toward the park.

"They're being pushed down towards the river," he said, "and Scobert Park is on the line towards the river."

Gadsby said neighbors look out for neighbors in the Whiteaker.

"But what we are lacking is police presence," Gadsby said, "and it's strange for a neighbor in the Whiteaker to say that we want more police here, but we want to feel safe in our neighborhood."

Bottom line: neighbors are ready to work with the City.

"If the city is willing to put the money in to it, then we need to be willing as a community to help self police our own parks, because this is just not acceptable," Gadsby said.

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