By Benny Harris, Dylan Coleman, Neil Beschle, Jen Beyrle
Tanya Spears is the President of the Cal-Young neighborhood association.
Q: Why did you start working for the Cal Young area?
A: I wanted to be involved in decisions to help place this neighborhood in a direction that would improve quality of life.
Q: How long have you been doing this for?
A: It’s been about two and a half years. I started by attending meetings and executive committee meetings every time there was one. Then I got elected vice-president two years ago, then president last January.
Q: What have you seen improved and what have you seen dwindle over these two and a half years?
A: Improvements in safety, it’s easier for kids to get to and from school. It’s easier for pedestrians to cross streets. In some parts there’s been pedestrian islands placed in the middle of crossing areas.
The water quality in Delta Ponds has gotten better. There have been a few cleanup crews and culverts have been installed. This reconnects it more to the [Willamette] River. This makes for good habitat for fish. There’s also been replanting of native plants and trees along the banks.
Q: What are some crucial issues facing the Cal Young area?
A: Transportation: Lack of funds for alternative transportation and safety in bike lanes really concerns me. You’ve probably noticed how people slow down, maybe, at stop signs. At streetlights, whether it’s sunny or raining, I’ve seen lots of close calls. People riding their bikes down main roads nearly get run over. This really worries me.
Also, the buses only seem to stop along one big loop around each neighborhood. There are lots of people who still have to walk a mile to get to a bus.
Q: Do you see these improvements happening anywhere on the horizon?
A: The key is money. There has to be money. I think bus service and bike lanes are a real priority. They’re at the top of the wish list but funding is what’s needed. We need the money in order to implement it. There’s no way to do it without money.
Q: What issues do you see affecting Cal Young and most other Eugene neighborhoods?
A: Lack of funding to improve transportation and traffic congestion. It’s bad to have the bottleneck at the Ferry Street Bridge and not have any bus service.
I’d like to see a school bus. I live close to the Cal Young Middle School. There are hundreds of cars waiting to pick up their children. They just sit there; idle, for about fifteen minutes. I look at that and think, “If there was one school bus, or two, it could take those kids home.” Every school has masses of parents picking up their children.
Q: Do you care to elaborate on your idea about making neighborhoods smaller?
A: Divide up the huge Cal Young neighborhood in to more relevant areas for the people who live here. They can have an identity these areas. They don’t have to deal with issues happening four miles away but issues within walking distance of their own home.
You can have a neighborhood if there’s, at least, 300 residents. You don’t want more than 5,000 [residents] in a neighborhood. Cal Young neighborhood has, nearly, 12,000 residents, not including businesses. That’s way too many.