Residents Discuss Current Problems and Improvements
By Hannah Everman
There has been a wide range of opinions about the Whiteaker neighborhood over the years. Residents of the neighborhood have many different perspectives about the issues the Whiteaker faces, and some of the improvements to the neighborhood in the recent years.
John Karroll, a U.S. Postal Carrier in the neighborhood 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.” Karroll has been a postal worker in the neighborhood for approximately 20 years.
The Whiteaker has improved through more businesses expanding into the neighborhood and attracting more people to the area. Businesses like Ninkasi Brewing Co., Hop Valley Brewing Co., and Oakshire Brewing have all added a new appeal to the neighborhood.
The Whiteaker still has room for improvement, however. “When people are camping outside, they are not disposing of their waste properly,” said resident Alisha Walls. “We’ve had feces in our alleyway and where we play Frisbee is constantly being urinated on.”
Walls described some solutions she would like to see for this issue, such as a public bathroom for the community, so that residents don’t have to continue to use the streets.
The neighborhood has had a history of drug use, and continues to face those problems today.
“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,” said Kevin MacLean, a member of Democracy Resources.
“The drugs on the street before were a lot worse,” Karroll said.
Ambre Bingham, a bartender at Tiny Tavern, describes some of the current drug problems facing the neighborhood. “People come over to this park over here and give out free clean needles and pick up dirty ones,” she said.
The Whiteaker is home to several social service organizations that provide help for drug abusers and the homeless population, such as the Eugene Mission, Willamette Family, and JESCO, Living Solutions.
MacLean himself has lived in the East Blair Housing Co-Op for 10 years. “They’re doing great things as far as low income people being able to be housed,” he said.
Despite some of the current problems in the neighborhood, local businesses continue to thrive in the Whiteaker. Businesses such as The New Day Bakery work to improve the neighborhood through their new farmers’ market on Sundays, and Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen is known for its southern comfort style food, which brings in business from all over the Eugene area.
According to MacLean, there are many assumptions that the Whiteaker is a “dangerous neighborhood.” However, residents still enjoy the neighborhood, and think it’s a great place to live. “Yeah there are a bunch of weirdos, but it’s colorful,” said Felix Epperson, an artist at Black Lotus Tattoo.
“The Whiteaker is a great neighborhood to live in,” Maclean said.