Nearly 50 current and former Bend High School coaches are asking the city and school board to reconsider plans for a managed homeless campsite off NE 9th Street – near the high school and Bear Creek Elementary.
“This area is a corridor where hundreds of children commute daily between the two schools, Juniper Park, and Ponderosa Park,” the letter reads. “For Bend High, we have students, six soccer teams, a 9th-grade baseball team, lacrosse teams, and about 135 XC and track runners who use this area to access our 15th St. fields and running areas. We see Bear Creek Elementary students walking in this area every school day.”
The city has proposed two different managed homeless camps; the one off 9th Street – across from the Bend High baseball field – and another on the south end of town near Murphy Road and Highway 97.’
Bend-La Pine Schools officials say the city reached out them this week and the two groups will soon meet to discuss the proposal.
But the school district wouldn’t have any part of the final decision.
Plans call for 15-25 campsites in each location and officials have said the sites will have sanitation service, water and quiet hours.
“We are early in the process of figuring out how to make this work and exploring options,” Mayor Sally Russell said in a letter she’s sent to those with questions about the campsites. “A managed camp would include agreements and monitoring, and Councilors are working to ensure that a site doesn’t look or function like the pop-up, unregulated camps that the community has seen around and been concerned by.”
The proposal is still in the planning stages.
City Council next month will talk more about the campsites, the potential population and necessary safety measures, Russell said.
The city would then look to work with a social service provider to operate the camp and conduct more outreach and public meetings before determining if it’s the best spot.
The coaches group says it’s not.
“We support the Council’s goal for accessible and effective city government. However, we believe the current decision to offer RV and tent camping in between the school campuses creates homeless opportunities at the expense of student safety,” it reads.
“We need you to closely evaluate how this campsite may impact our two schools,” the letter said. “We need the City Council and School Board to consider building community resiliency by evaluating if this is the best environment for our students.”
You can read the full letter below.Coaches Letter Addressing Proposed Homeless Camp(1)