The Churchill neighborhood boasts million dollar homes with panoramic views, well-maintained parks and good schools, but crime and an ever-increasing transient population are creating big costs for local businesses and a headache for public safety personnel.
Acorn Park is a local favorite notable for its many walking and bike paths. However, Fire Captain David McNeil of the Bailey Hill Fire Station warns that while the park itself is safe, the bike paths that lead into the park are quite dangerous due to the homeless population that like to hangout in the area. “I wouldn’t walk there if I were a single female, alone at any time of day,” he said.
The burgeoning transient population in the Churchill neighborhood can be traced to the wealth of services and resources the city of Eugene provides the homeless, said Firefighter Derek Thorstenson. “Transients come from all over the West Coast to Eugene,” Thorstenson said. “There’s nowhere else in the country like it. Very generous here.”
Angela Chan owns Churchill’s only restaurant, Koho Bistro and she says that break-ins have become so regular that she now just considers it a cost of doing business in the area. “We’ve been here for six months and our restaurant has been broken into four times,” she said.
Part of the problem is that Koho Bistro sits in a mostly deserted strip mall where the sounds of broken glass and late-night mischief go unheard. McNeil says the economic recession has played a major part in the lack of businesses. “I haven’t seen a lot of growth in this part of town,” he said.
In the meantime Chan has installed a brand new security system with eight cameras, motion sensors and an earsplitting alarm. “We hope the alarms are loud enough for the firefighters across the street to hear or scare off intruders,” she said.