Would the Troy Field parking lot be a good place for a homeless camp?
The city of Bend has been looking at property it owns for possible homeless camps. With the weather swiftly getting colder, the city is trying to move swiftly to find solutions where people can safely park and camp in more controlled settings with management, support and facilities.
The city is not land rich. It owns a few plots here and there. Most have buildings on them. Others just would not be suitable for the kinds of camps it is envisioning.
Everyone, or most everyone has heard about the possible location on Ninth Street, near Bend Senior High School. The city has also discussed again last week possibly doing something out at Juniper Ridge. It would be on the site called of all things Crusher Site No. 2. Most of what the council discussed at its meeting Wednesday night were ways to possibly get that moving faster.
Something new, though, was: Possible use of the Troy Field parking lot for a safe parking area homeless camp. Not the field itself, which is owned by the Bend-La Pine School District. The parking lot. Troy Field is on Bond Street downtown near city hall and McMenamins Old St. Francis School.
The parking lot is technically right of way. And generally you don’t put things in that block rights of way. The city would have to find some way of dealing with that issue.
People with homes and businesses near the lot may have the kinds of concerns you would expect. One might be: What will keep the houseless people from expanding the area themselves on to Troy Field? Under the law, it’s not a simple matter of telling people to leave if they have no other place to go.
But remember there is a fantastic example in Bend of how well a safe parking program for the homeless can work. That’s run by Reach Out Central Oregon.
When the school district put Troy Field up for sale in 2014, some in the community protested. There were efforts to get the field declared historical. The district was hoping to use the sale of the land to help pay for new school construction. It eventually abandoned that plan. The property is now not for sale.
Will people have a similar intensity of feeling for the adjacent parking lot? We may soon find out.