A park has always been a place for children to run free and for adults to have leisure time with loved ones. In Eugene, the Whiteaker neighborhood has a vast amount of park space for these activities to take place. The Maurie Jacobs Park, in particular, offers 23.7 acres of grassy land and multiple play structures for people of all ages to enjoy. Located next to the Willamette River, this park is a major attraction in the Eugene area. During the daytime, the park is flooded with diverse groups of people walking their dogs, riding the bike path, and eating lunch on the picnic tables. However, once the sun goes down, it is not the most recommended place to hang out.
Sunday afternoon two men, Mark Rolle and John, whose last name is undisclosed, were spending their day at the Maurie Jacobs Park riding their bikes and enjoying some deep conversations with one another. Rolle, born and raised in Virginia, says that his favorite part of the Whiteaker community is the Owen Rose Memorial Garden. “When I came here that was the first thing that I saw. And I saw all the different leaves, the roses, the smells. I just had an enjoyable time!” he says. The neighborhood has much to offer to its community and is known for its easy-going and artsy atmosphere.
Yet there are problems that remain as large concerns to the Whiteaker residents. John says, “The community is kind of dysfunctional. Most of what I’m worried about are jobs. So if Kitty Piercy or Kitzhaber did something to make jobs in our neighborhood, that’d be great!” Rolle adds that there also needs to be more police involvement in the area at night and early morning time. “The police are suppose to be able to tell the difference between letting somebody go verses somebody that’s out there looking for little children or looking to accost a female” he says. His friend John agrees and adds that “crimes that are not criminal, so if someone has a beer or marijuana, consensual crime. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Don’t fill up our jails with that.” Rolle has witnessed a woman being attacked by someone in the park, so the need for more public safety is a subject that personally affects him and his life in Whiteaker.
Further down the park’s bike path, a father and daughter take advantage of the rare sunny day in Eugene to walk their two black labs around the park. Mike and Kalee, last names undisclosed, say they enjoy having outdoor areas for biking and taking your dog on a walk. Mike says his favorite part about the Whiteaker in particular, “is mostly the local color, the organic mentality and a lot of diversity.” Kalee agrees and adds that there are a lot of interesting places to eat, but “down by 5th and Blair could use some sprucing up. It’s just a bit, for lack of a better word, ghetto.”
When asked about the areas in need of improvement, Mike adds, “It seems like there’s a big emphasis on alcohol consumption and I’d like to see more alternative type activities, especially for the younger crowd.” Another Whiteaker resident, Joe Becker, agrees with Mike and Kalee and says that while there are some positive qualities about the Whit, “the downside is the drugs, crime, and poverty.”
The Whiteaker neighborhood is a largely diverse area and with the variety of restaurants, parks and fine arts opportunities available, the majority of the residents are proud to live here.