In the Southeast neighborhood of Eugene, soft sounds of children playing soccer on an open field against a backdrop of an evergreen skyline of trees fills the air. Couples walk their dogs through the hilly neighborhood and groups of teenagers laugh as they sit on sidewalk curbs.
I went to the area around Spencer’s Butte Middle School at around 7pm to learn about Southeast Eugene neighborhood. The first woman I talked to, Louanne Heliker, lives directly across the street from the middle school. Heliker moved from 21st and Amazon this past April 1st because of unhappiness with the number of homeless people and number of break-ins, including her own home. She now says that her new home and neighborhood feels very safe and friendly. Her elementary age daughter can now run through the park on the school grounds in front of her house without the fear of homeless people sleeping in the brush along Amazon trail. As a home health nurse, Heliker works the opposite hours of a normal 9-5 schedule, so on her first night moving in , she looked out her front window at 5am and saw a car going 90mph spinning donuts right in front of her house, but other than that, she is content with her move to Southeast Eugene.
Further down the road, I met Eric Fager, a 20 year old male returning from playing basketball at Spencer’s Butte Middle School. Fager, Heliker, enjoys the quietness of Southeast Eugene. A resident for 20 years, Fager grew up in Southeast neighborhood and attended Evergreen Elementary School and Spencer’s Butte Middle School, both of which within walking distance from his home. The small town feel of Fager’s life is what attracts him to stay in the neighborhood with his parents. With everything within walking distance to his home and a community of friends, Southeast Eugene showed little need for any form of improvement.
A few bocks down the street from Fager I met Jarret Bryant, a 40 year old man visiting a neighboring friend. Bryant’s kind smile and welcoming hello reflected the feeling of calm and safeness of Southeast Eugene. That is Bryant’s favorite part of the neighborhood. He enjoys the peacefulness and beautiful views Southeast Eugene provides. Although some residents drive too slow through the neighborhood for Bryant’s taste, he respects that it adds to the safety of the neighborhood.