Park Gets Green Light after Being Stalled for Years

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Byline: Randi Bjornstad The Register-Guard

After 12 years of wishing they still had a park of their own, residents of Eugene's densely populated West University Neighborhood should be able to feel the grass between their toes or sit and sip their lattes on the brand new cafe plaza this summer.

Eventually, they'll also be able to sink putts on a disc-golf green, shoot a few hoops at the basketball plaza and watch little children cavort on a compact playground.

It's been a long time in the resurrecting - the tiny 16,000 square-foot park at the corner of East 14th Avenue and Hilyard Street has been legally off-limits to everyone since the mid-1990s, when the city shut it down and fenced it in following years of vandalism, drug use and dealing, loitering, fights and a variety of public indecencies.

It's taken the cooperation of the neighborhood group, a developer willing to do a land swap, city parks planners, pledges of support from volunteers, donations and a bit of grant money - worth a total of about $100,000 - to put the park back on the ground.

"The budget so far covers only the bare bones essentials," said Robin Hostick, principal landscape architect for the city of Eugene.

"Right now, we're just restaking the neighborhood's claim to the park and creating the infrastructure - lawn, paths, plaza and drainage - that the park will grow on," Hostick added.

Plans for the reconfigured park got an automatic go-ahead from the city of Eugene this week, when an appeal period expired on an application to adjust setback requirements on the proposed park property to garner a little more room for park uses.

Standards for neighborhood parks usually call for about 4 acres of space, but this one is only about one-third of an acre, "so everything's scaled down and planned very carefully," Hostick said. …