River Road Community Update

By Carleen Reilly

Summer’s here!!! No doubt about it. Hope you are employing all the techniques you know to stay cool. It’s time to pick up that summer reading.

Affordable Housing Tour: About 20 neighbors and city staff toured three affordable housing projects around the community. The first was in our River Road Neighborhood: Turtle Creek near Northwest Expressway. The second was Bascom Village I, and the third was Willakenzie Crossing. To say the least, it was a very hot evening. In a couple of places, we spent time in their well-used community buildings. That took some of the edge off of the heat.

Turtle Creek is a Lane County ‘Homes for Good’ project, located just off of North Park Avenue. It was built in 2008 with 27 units and includes resident services. As an older development, it has fewer energy efficient amenities. Newer projects include solar panels and heat pumps. The community garden is better utilized this year than in other years, but it is still ‘rustic’–in the words of our guide.

Many questions from River Road neighbors circled around environmental topics: community gardens, edible landscaping, water catchment, energy-efficient architectural levels, solar energy production, and efficient heating/cooling equipment. Other questions related to building community and social fabric.

Bascom Village I is run by St. Vincent de Paul and was built in 2016. It is located north of Beltline to the west of Coburg Road. It contains 53 units (at 20 units per acre) and includes a community room, playground, and resident services program. It, too, had a community garden.

Willakenzie Crossing is a Cornerstone Community Housing development. Completed in 2013, it contains 56 units on 2 acres including 16 for disabled adults. This is the only project with extra care for people with mental disabilities. Amenities include community center, resident services, garden plot, and children’s play area. It is also located next to a large open park. Neighbors to the south can meander through Willakenzie Crossing to the park, and they feel welcomed. Adjacent to the project is the Mckenzie Mohawk Grange. Staff emphasized the quality partnerships they have with the Grange and Harlow Neighborhood association had a welcoming party at the Grange when Willakenzie Crossing opened. The Grange continues to hold ice cream socials and holiday parties with the residents. The project feels welcomed to the community in a mutually beneficial relationship.

I was particularly struck by how attractive the housing was in all locations. Nice designs with porches on the front, attractive paint jobs, and beautiful landscaping–lots of open spaces. I didn’t see a weed anywhere, and I know how hard Pat and I have to work to get half-way around our yard each year. All projects have community garden spaces. The garden at Willakenzie has 8 plots, and the residents didn’t step up in the number needed to fill it out; so they handed it over to the children as a growing/learning activity. It was flourishing beautifully!

The amount of green spaces, well landscaped, was awesome. As one of our guides said, these spaces are needed ‘as people spill out of their homes.’ We saw lots of residents on the streets or meandering the sidewalks–finding a breath of fresh air and camaraderie with their neighbors and visiting friends.

The other aspect that I consider central to a thriving community are programs that support the people who live there. The community centers seem to be a busy hub of activities with participation from Food For Lane County, community farmers’ markets–including produce from their community gardens, classes by Extension Services, children’s play areas during classes for parents, homework helpers for children, and a Rising Star program to encourage children to accomplish their goals.

The really touching image that stays with me was when we were standing outside Willakenzie, trying to listen to our guide and feeling very hot, a young girl with her scooter went by on the sidewalk and waved at us. It was such a friendly moment. I understand that residents have been surveyed as to how satisfied they are in living there, its safety, affordability, access to jobs and schools, and sense of it being a healthy environment for their families. We don’t have to take the word of those who build and manage the properties. Reports are available with that resident info. Here is the link: https://www.eugene-or.gov/871/HUD-Consolidated-Plan.

This is all in preparation for the new affordable housing project to be built East of River Road, North of Dari Mart, near Maynard. First hand information about how projects are planned, designed, built, managed, and maintained is valuable in understanding accurately what will occur. A community meeting will be held on WEDNESDAY, August 22, 7:00 p.m. Dayspring Fellowship Church, 1580 River Road.

Beltline Highway paving and road work continues
Two weekends down – Three to go

Calendar:

SATURDAY, August 18, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. RRCO Potluck Picnic at Emerald Park, Structure #2 north of restrooms.) Biodegradable plates and utensils provided.
MONDAY, August 20, 7:00 p.m. RRCO Board meeting. River Road Annex.
TUESDAY, August 21, 6:00 p.m. Neighborhood Planning Community Advisory Committee, North Eugene High School. Planning for our next Neighborhood Planning work groups and Fall public event.
WEDNESDAY, August 22, 7:00 p.m. Dayspring Fellowship Church, 1580 River Road. Neighborhood meeting for property planned for affordable housing, north of River Road Dari Mart.
TUESDAY, August 21, 2018, 5:30 to 7:30, Party in the Parks, Arrowhead Park. Using seven marimbas, singing, drums, and other percussion, Kudana Marimba engages audiences throughout the Pacific Northwest with traditional Zimbabwean music.

Disclaimer: The RR CRG weekly messages are my personal views and interpretation of community events and neighborhood planning efforts. I am not a Board member of RRCO (River Road Community Organization); SCRRIPT (Santa Clara-River Road Implementation Planning Team) has transitioned leadership to the Community Advisory Committee (CAC); and I have never been a City employee.

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Neighborhood resident Carleen Reilly publishes a weekly newsletter called “River Road Community Resource Group”. If you would like to subscribe you can contact Carleen at: carleenr |at| gmail dot com.