Santa Clara's Awbrey Park: 'This little park surrounded by suburbia'

EUGENE, Ore. - With large oak trees, native wildflowers in full bloom, and a family of resident ducks, many in Santa Clara call Awbrey Park the ideal neighborhood park.

It's been a transition 5 years in the making, and volunteers with Friends Of Awbrey Park celebrated a half-decade of hard work on Sunday.

As volunteer Darcy Davis points out, it hasn't always been this way.

"Needles, beer bottles and just evidence of misuse in the park," Darcy said, remembering to the old days of the now family-friendly park.

The park originally sat on Lane County land. It was acquired by the City of Eugene - left in various states of disrepair.

Davis said the park used to be known as a place where people would party, drink and sometimes do drugs. The tall non-native blackberry bushes lining the 4-and-a-half acre park didn't help the aesthetics either.

"You couldn't venture much further than that, and then you'd have to run your kid home to the bathroom, you couldn't be here for very long," said Davis.

Brandy Ferguson created Friends of Awbrey Park five years ago, to take steps to improve the space through the city's adopt-a-park program.

"(It's) wonderful to be in a neighborhood, this little park surrounded by suburbia," said Ferguson.

Since Awbrey Park started out under Lane County control, it retained many features that are unusual to most city parks.

"It's got the fir trees, we have open areas where you can play frisbee golf, you can build a fire in the fire pits," said Davis.

There are also nature trails with historic wooden bridges that open up the park.

"Santa Clara really needs a park where people can come, and this one offers so many opportunities for so many different types of people," said Davis.