People stand near tents at Oregon State Capitol State Park in December. (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)
The Salem Parks and Recreation Advisory Board doesn’t want homeless residents camping in city parks.
In a draft letter dated Jan. 9, board member Kasia Quillinan told Salem City Council the board disapproved of an idea to designate park lands for camping. The idea’s been floated since early December, though city officials have favored finding a new emergency shelter instead.
Quillinan said the board wanted to send the letter make their stance clear in case the park campsite idea is revisited in the future.
“I was a little perturbed that it had not been brought before the Parks and Recreation Board but had been discussed at city council,” Quillinan said.
She said the proposal would be detrimental to park maintenance and public usage.
“The unanimous vote was that we did not want any homeless camping,” Quillinan said.
Last month, city staff produced a report highlighting 10 properties that could serve as a campground for 35 people. But City Manager Steve Powers said none were “ideal,” but he highlighted a section of Wallace Marine Park as a temporary option.
Accounting for the cost of portable toilets, garbage service, fences, lighting and staff to manage, a campground could rack up an annual cost of $1 million.
City councilors instead chose to look for shelter indoors, and efforts have fallen short in recent weeks.
The nine-member advisory board meets monthly to advise the city on parks issues. Two members weren’t present for a December vote on the letter.
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