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EUGENE, Ore. - Santa Clara residents gathered for a community meeting on Thursday night at Messiah Lutheran Church on River Road to discuss what might be done with the LTD-owned land on the corner of River Road and Hunsaker Lane.
Staff with Lane Transit District said they hope to put a bus station on the land eventually, but they don’t see that happening until 2019. LTD was approached by two homeless advocates about using the property for a car camping program, and LTD is considering that proposal, said Therese Lang, LTD public information officer.
"So we thought this might be a good idea for us to, as I said, just investigate it and look into it and see how we could be of service to those who really are down on their luck," Lang said.
As a result of the proposal by the homeless advocates, St. Vincent de Paul is considering using the land for its "Overnight Parking Program." The car camping program has been up and running for years with the help of the city of Eugene. It's a program that temporarily helps out people who have found themselves homeless, and gives them some time to get back on their feet. Together the entities approve people to live in their cars on certain plots of land, monitor that land, and take care of things such as clean up and bathrooms. You can learn more about the program here. Staff with LTD said the thorough vetting process for allowing people to take advantage of the program was important to them.
Staff said they haven’t made any decisions yet, and they won’t be making an official decision without knowing how the community is feeling about it first.
Neighbors of the area were reacting in a variety of ways. Some people felt this was a good use of the land, and projects like these are important.
"I think it's really important that there are places in the community for homeless camps," said Scott Lundgreen, a Santa Clara resident.
Other people felt more hesitant and were worried about the safety of kids and others who lived nearby.
"There are lots of kids, neighborhood kids, and my kids eventually, once a couple years from now and they're a little older, will be walking down here unattended," said Autumn Mosley, another Santa Clara resident. "I'd rather them not be walking past needles and garbage and anything else that might arise from this."
LTD said they’ll have a decision on whether or not they’re moving forward with the project either by the end of April or sometime in May.