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EUGENE, Ore. - The City of Eugene is currently working on a project on the Washington-Jefferson Park in the Whiteaker area to improve the sports features and hopefully drive out some of the crime.
Residents who live near the park feel that crime has been an issue in the area for a long time, and that something needs to change.
The City of Eugene Parks and Open Spaces Department said they're approaching the project in two phases. In phase one, which ended in early December, they removed a stage near the basketball court as well as some nearby bleachers.
Staff said that since the park is located under the I-105 bridge near Jefferson Street, the acoustics are terrible. They said because of that the stage was never used for programmed reasons, and just ended up being a nuisance that attracted the wrong crowd, which is what they're trying to get rid of.
"Basically we're looking to try and bring in more positive use. Not to displace anyone that's here, specifically, but have a wide array of users down here," said Adam Steffen, a landscape architect with the City of Eugene.
In phase two, Steffen said the basketball courts will be getting a bit of a lift. They'll be implementing new basketball hoops as well as possibly doing some surface work on the court. He said they'll also provide some better overhead lighting for the court, like they did with the skate park.
Steffen said they've already seen an improvement in the park since completing phase one.
"It's help reduce a litte bit, some of the negative activity we've had. We've also had a great partnership with the Eugene Police," said Steffen.
He said the police as well as "park ambassadors" have started to keep a closer eye on the park for crime.
Steffen did say, however. that there still will be a little bit of a wait for phase two. The project is currently pending due to a project that the Oregon Department of Transportation will soon be working on with the bridge overhead.
He said this could delay phase two of the Washington-Jefferson Park project one to two years.