City works to respond to neighborhood concerns about Nightingale Rest Stop

The Eugene city manager decided on the Lone Oak location for the Nightingale Health Sanctuary camp, but now neighbors are delaying the relocation. (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore.- The City of Eugene say the Lone Oak site on Ross Lane will stay empty a bit longer as they work through neighborhood concerns about the Nightingale Rest Stop.

"We figured we needed some time to regroup and kind of process what we're hearing so we could best respond to the neighborhood's concerns," Michael Kinnison, City of Eugene Human Rights & Neighborhood Involvement Program Manager, said in a phone interview.

Several neighbors say the city didn't tell them Nightingale was moving to their area.

"I've had no knocks on my door, no mail, no nothing. Absolutely nothing," Amy Jackson, a resident on Ross Lane, said.

"No, not until I see flags out in the field," neighbor Mary Page added.

Kinnison explained the city has been reaching out both through door-knocks and by email. He says they're concentrating on visiting homes within 500 feet of the Lone Oak site.

"You can only go out and knock on so many doors," Kinnison said.

Kinnison also explained that when city counsel makes a decision, they don't go public with the information until elected officials consider it. Then, the city makes a plan to discuss the impact with neighbors.

"I am empathetic with folks feeling like they didn't - this came on them very quickly and so we're trying to be sensitive about that now," Kinnison said.

Neighbors say Lone Oak is a place many people use as a shortcut, to get to places like Fred Meyer and Albertsons. Amy Jackson expressed her concern that the residents of Nightingale camp may harass walkers.

"My children have already been harassed along that path by the homeless that currently sleep there, and so I just have major concerns that we weren't given a voice, often because we are a low-income demographic of Eugene," Jackson said.

The Nightingale rest stop is home to 20 people. Kinnison says they've never had any issues with them, and they don't contribute to crime. He says they also go through background checks before staying in the rest stop.

"I'm hopeful once people learn more about that, they won't be quite as fearful for something like this," Kinnison said.

Kinnison says the city hasn't established a move date yet for Nightingale.

The rest stop has to move from its current location on county land near Autzen Stadium because the land is contracted to be used for parking during home football games.

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