More residents liking what they see in downtown Eugene
EUGENE, Ore. -- The numbers are in and downtown Eugene is showing signs of improvement.
After a yearlong study and several city initiatives to make downtown more inviting, most Eugenians now like what they see.
So what’s working?
The wreaths have gone up, marking another year's end in downtown Eugene, but this one is different from last year.
Phoebe West-Fields and Marissa McDaniel were born and raised in Eugene: "It's better than it was I think. I never really started coming downtown until I got older. You couldn't really come down here, especially as a kid; I was never allowed to be around here."
They grew up thinking of downtown as boring and unsafe. Now, it's where they get lunch.
For them and many other Eugeneians, the stereotypes of downtown are starting to change.
"This year, among people who are downtown, more often we were hearing more words like improving and vibrant and lively," says City of Eugene’s Sarah-Kate Sharkey.
In the past year, the City brought more events downtown like the Eugene Parade and added music performances, food trucks and more seating - all to make it more inviting.
"We had a 47% increase in event attendees this year over last year in the public spaces, which was amazing."
There was also a big push for safety, including an increased police presence.
That worked too.
"Having more women and children downtown is an indication of greater feelings of safety."
The number of women using public spaces increased 35 to 40 percent, and the number of children increased 100 percent.
Now, today's little ones could grow up with new views of downtown.
"They like going downtown; they like coming to the library; they like coming to the farmers market."
The numbers are based on community surveys, interviews, activity mapping, and attendance at events.
Not everything received positive reviews; residents had mixed opinions on the dog ban, and some said they didn't see improvement.
As for the future, the park block events will continue every Friday in December and the city plans on bringing back some of the summer festivities for next year.