Cascades Gateway Park to reopen Monday, a year after city officially ended sanctioned homeless camping
, 2022-07-29 14:07:29,
The long timeline to restore areas of the park that were damaged following a city decision to allow homeless camping during the pandemic has frustrated neighborhood residents. Former campers and nearby Church at the Park agree Salem needs more micro shelters and other options where homeless people can live.
The west side of Cascades Gateway Park is scheduled to reopen Aug. 1 after nearly a year of closure for cleanup (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
A portion of Salem’s Cascades Gateway Park will reopen Monday after an end to city-sanctioned homeless camping prompted a nearly year-long closure for cleanup.
The park has been closed to the public since Aug. 19, 2021.
The city’s parks department had hoped to reopen earlier, but parks crews had to repair substantial damage done over the past two years, including grading the parking lot, restoring the lawn and trash collection, city spokesman Trevor Smith said.
The east side of the 100-acre park needs “major infrastructure work” and will remain closed, Smith said.
Cascades Gateway was one of two parks where the city allowed homeless people to camp for much of the pandemic – providing some stability for camp residents for over a year. But city officials said last May they would eventually end such camping there and at Wallace Marine Park.
The park’s long closure has frustrated nearby residents who say they’ve been unable to use their neighborhood park for the past two years as the disc golf course, fishing pond and grass fields became a makeshift home for hundreds of people with nowhere else to go.
“This is as peaceful and lovely as I’ve seen the park in two years,” said Cory Poole, chair of the Southeast Mill Creek Neighborhood Association, on a walk through last week. The grass was recently mowed and a few disc golfers were playing on the course despite the park’s official closure.
“This was a very well-used park before the city just decided to throw it away,” Poole said.
Reopening the park has meant a return to the city enforcing its camping ban, though scattered tents and camp sites remained in the park last week, and some people have moved across the creek to Oregon Department of Transportation property.
Cory Poole, chair of the Southeast Mill Creek Neighborhood Association, said unmanaged camping in Cascades Gateway Park caused substantial damage and a loss of trust between neighborhood residents and the city (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
At nearby homeless service provider…
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