By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
ODOT and Bend Police Thursday worked to clean up a homeless camp near Revere Avenue and the Parkway in an effort, they said, to improve highway access and address safety concerns.
Crews removed 30 cubic yards of trash from the transient camp that’s popped up in a vacant area next to the ramp on and off the Parkway.
“What our job here is to do is to make sure that this environment is safe,” said Peter Murphy with the Oregon Department of Transportation. “That includes for people who are here on the property, but for also people driving around.”
Murphy says it was a collaborative effort to improve safety.
“We are working with representatives of the homeless community and with Deschutes County and the Bend Police, so we are doing the right thing for the greatest number of people,” Murphy added.
The work drew criticism from some who said campers were just trying to survive.
“We gave the folks camping here plenty of notice to do what they can do to make a cleaner, safer place, but despite that we had to come in to take steps to clean up,” he said.
Murphy says no citations were issued and no one was forced to leave the site.
“Initially we had thought one person would have to be evicted, but that is not the case,” Murphy said. “We had managed to make an agreement with that person to make sure they kept their place safe.”
ODOT plans to hold on to some personal property until campers can claim their belongings.
“We are trying to find a way to get our job done, which is to operate a highway system safely and effectively and thread the needle, if you will, to try and make sure we are doing the right thing,” he said.
Bend police assisted with Thursday’s effort but refused our request for comment.