Jon Crawford is at ease when he walks his dog Kingpin in Trainsong Park. “Some people think this might be the lower poor side of town, and ‘Oh, scary,’” he said. “There’s nothing going on in this park at 2 0’clock in the morning that I gotta be worried about.”
Crawford has lived in the Trainsong Neighborhood of Eugene, Ore., for four years, and despite the negative views that other Eugeneians hold for Trainsong he said, “We don’t have any problems here whatsoever.”
Larry Bradley, owner of Chocolate Decadence and its outlet store in Trainsong, said he has experienced some negative perceptions as well: “When people drive down the road and they come in here, they say, ‘Well I got half way up Bethel and I thought “Really? Do I really want to keep going?”’”
The negativity that outsiders associate with Trainsong may come from some past trouble the neighborhood has faced. “There was a couple stupid little gangs a while back, but they got all broken up,” Crawford said. He also referred to an incident that occurred a couple of years previous in which the SWAT team removed some residents “that were all spun on drugs and holding other drug fiends hostage.”
Trainsong’s aesthetics may also play a role in some perceptions of its precariousness. Eric Lahmers, an employee at Four Corners Veterinary Clinic on the edge of the neighborhood, said, “People walking by on the street, you can tell that they’re not well off…somewhat downtrodden.” Lahmers suggested that tidying up the outside of local businesses might make a difference in outsiders’ willingness to come into the neighborhood.
Whatever the rest of the world may think about Trainsong, it has its share of blessings in the eyes of those who live and work there. “There may be some perception before people get here that it’s a negative neighborhood,” Bradley said, “But it’s actually pretty positive.” He listed Philyaw’s Cookout & Catering, a nearby doughnut shop, his chocolate factory, and Oakshire Brewery among the great places to be in Trainsong. “Not bad,” he said of his list.
Crawford chipped in with his own list of Trainsong’s benefits, the park being his favorite. “It means a lot for walking the dogs, and the kids have their playground and the older kids have their skateboard stuff and their basketball stuff.” He also said that police patrol the streets near the park to keep the families who go there for little league sports and other activities safe. “This street right here is one of the quietest streets there is,” Crawford said, adding to the advantages of living in Trainsong. In fact, he said, “there is no disadvantage.”