Government spending cutbacks are hurting the River Road area

Seen through different perspectives, the struggle with lower governmental financial support is evident

By Ashten Johnson

Residents and a city employee of River Road are aware of how the decrease in government spending is diminishing the quality of life in their area.

While this is a major issue all over the country in almost every community, amongst various people in this district, the cutbacks are affecting them differently.

Banner Witt, a 28-year old resident of Eugene and manager of the local Joann Fabrics, sees the lack of support for the homeless on River Road as the most prominent problem. While not a resident of the River Road community, she says that unfortunately, she does spend the majority of her time there. From her experience within the community, she said, “The individuals that desire money from people by just asking” is the biggest issue facing River Road at this time.

Banner Witt, 28, has been working at Joann Fabrics for eight years and been manager for five.

Witt went on to explain that these people have taken advantage of situations within the community by simply acquiring, and not assisting in return. She mentioned how a man sits in the corner of the parking lot begging and people coming into the fabric store and making themselves comfortable at the pattern table has also been an issue in the past.

The amount of support offered downtown in comparison to River Road is something that Witt was well aware of. She said, “The biggest help is downtown. They have the missionaries down there, but they don’t have anything out in this area.” The close proximity of the Veterans Clinic to the area brings many people out to River Road, with nothing to do when they get out there.

Firefighter Chris Anderson was also aware of the lack of government funding in the River Road area, specifically how it has been affecting the fire station. He said, “Not having the property out here that we used to have because it’s being annexed to the city so that tax base is being taken away from us.” This leaves the three paid employees and 40 volunteers at the Santa Clara Fire Station in the position of funding themselves with less money.

Chris Anderson is one of three paid employees at the fire station and is in charge of training.

The operating levy in place now that increases taxes is working, but as the tax base continues to go down, other options will have to be explored. Amongst these options, Anderson points out that joining with Lane County and Lane County Rural fire departments have not been bad options thus far.

Knecht’s Auto Parts employee Bob Hemble sees the issues of lacking government involvement on a personal level. As resident of Eugene, he is not able to vote in the Eugene City Mayor election, even though his neighbor across the street is within the city limits, while he is not. The construction developments around his home are also considered to be within the Eugene city limits, but because of which side of the street he lives on, he will not be able to vote in this election.

The city boundaries prevent Bob Hemble from voting in the Eugene City Mayor elections.

While Hemble is unsure as to if anyone in his neighborhood has petitioned to change the city limits for this reason, his solution to this problem is simple. He said, “If you are considered living in Eugene, you should be able to vote on who is mayor. My address says Eugene, not Santa Clara.”

While the River Road community is continuing to grow in numbers, the current residents are aware that changes need to be made in order to support the area. These citizens know that homelessness, budget cuts, and voting rights need to be updated for the increasing community.

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