Local community members express concern about their neighborhood
By Haley Martin
A range of River Road community members share their biggest concerns about their neighborhood. The answers range from homelessness to voting rights depending on each individual and their personal experience within the community.
Banner Witt, a 28-year-old River Road resident and Jo Ann Fabrics manager expresses concern about a problem that affects not only her personally, but her coworkers and fellow community members as well.
“We have a lot of people coming into our parking lot and stopping people and asking them for gas money, asking them for food, we have a gentleman who sits at the corner. We’ve had them come in and make themselves comfortable at our pattern table,” Witt says. Her biggest frustration is that these people are looking to take from others without giving anything in return. She believes that they are taking advantage of the community
With the VA clinic located right behind the shopping center, Witt has noticed a lot of people coming in search of help, but instead end up wandering around the area with nothing to do. She explains that most of the missionaries are located downtown, but if there were more nearby, it would help alleviate the problem. “The more availability to this neighborhood for things for them to do and places to be comfortable would help from them having to ask perfect strangers for help. They need support, but we can’t give them support, that’s not our job, I can barely support my family,” says Witt.
Firefighter, Chris Anderson’s biggest personal concern is “Not having the property out here that we used to have because it’s being annexed to the city.”
Funding and budgets are issues in any community, but Anderson says that the fire stations especially have taken a hit. Increasing taxes would generate the funds that they are lacking. The three paid employees and 40 volunteers at the Santa Clara Fire Station have had to accommodate to the lack of government funding.
Employee at the local Knecht’s Auto Parts, Bob Hemple, is frustrated that he is restricted from having a voice in his neighborhood. He isn’t allowed to vote for the Eugene mayor because he lives just outside the city limits, while his neighbor is considered a Eugene resident.
Hemple is unsure if anyone has petitioned to change the city limits, but he believes the answer is clear. “My address says Eugene, not Santa Clara, so we should be able to vote on what happens in Eugene,” Hemple says.
As the River Road neighborhood expands, community members recognize a need for improvement in their area. Homelessness, government funding, and voting rights are all issues that these residents believe are in need of attention.