River surfing has turned McKay Park into a dreamland for some and a dystopia for others. When the weather is warm — and even when it isn’t — the whitewater park can draw a crowd.
Surfers seem to love it. Some people pull up and camp for days. The public restrooms in the park give people a place to relieve themselves when they camp overnight. Some campers had even run extension cords to the power outlets in the park.
But businesses and other neighbors say they have seen Shevlin-Hixon Drive along the river become a taxpayer-funded campground complete with unwanted trash. They have told the city that they’ve had to seal up their own exterior power outlets and water faucets. They complained about parking being devoured for their own businesses. They have worried about emergency vehicle access when parking lines both sides of the street.
The city and the Bend Park & Recreation District are working on a promising solution: Limit parking to four hours. That’s much improved from Councilor Barb Campbell’s response to one business owner who asked the city for help with the issue. She chided him, asking him if he wanted to force businesses to hire homeless people — among other flabbergasting non sequiturs. Campbell’s email was so rude and dismissive that another councilor, Justin Livingston, called it “inappropriate & unprofessional” and apologized for it.
There was none of that nonsense when councilors discussed the matter at Wednesday’s council meeting. And, as long as the four-hour parking policy is enforced and the area that is included is large enough, the problem could be largely solved.