Residents Want Even More Change
By Ryan Broadhead
The Whiteaker neighborhood is a community with a reputation. The reputation was built on the back of environmental activism in the 1990’s and now the reputation has increased with the Occupy movement moving to Jefferson Park in the heart of the Whiteaker.
For residents living in the Whiteaker, the negative reputation that engulfs their neighborhood is changing.
John Karroll, a U.S. Postal carrier in the Whiteaker neighborhood for approximately 20 years said, “I have seen a great improvement in the neighborhood. It’s so much better off than it was before, that I couldn’t begin to identify problems,” he said. “The drugs on the streets before were a lot worse.”
The drug problem that Karroll referred to was a theme echoed by Kevin Maclean, a member of Democracy Resources. “Back in the early 1990’s there was an open Heroin Market right down the street, open 24/7, guys right out on the street,” he said.
Now Maclean says, “The Whiteaker is a great neighborhood to live in. The East Blair Housing Co-Op is a great organization doing great things as far as low income people being housed.”
From a business standpoint, some of the improvements to the neighborhood can be witnessed in the form of a farmers’ market on Sundays organized by The New Day Bakery. Along with the farmers’ market, Ninkasi Brewing Co., Oakshire Brewing, and Hop Valley Brewing Co., are all expanding into the neighborhood.
Like any neighborhood there are still many issues in the Whiteaker that need to be resolved though.
Alisha Walls, A Whiteaker resident says, “When people are camping outside, they are not disposing of their waste properly,” she said. “We’ve had feces in our alleyway and where we play Frisbee is constantly being urinated on.”
When asked for some suggestions of how she would like to see the problem resolved, Walls said, “A public bathroom or an outhouse for the community, so I could tell them to go down and use that instead.”
Another problem within the Whiteaker neighborhood is the lack of schools for children in the neighborhood.
According to Kerry Delf, The Communications Coordinator for Eugene School District 4J, “When the Whiteaker Elementary closed in the early 2000’s, many of those students went to River Road Elementary,” she said. “We no longer have a school in the Whiteaker area.”
Great strides have taken place in the Whiteaker neighborhood leaving some residents encouraged while others wish for more.
U.S Postal carrier Karroll said, “There has been no specific assault or drug sale because they know better and I have a cocky attitude,” he said. “I know where you live.” He concluded with a smile commonly found in the Whiteaker.