If you drove past Pioneer Park between Highway 34 and Avery Park in December, you may have noticed the parking lot was full of RV trailers and tents. This may not have come as a surprise, as Corvallis has suspended enforcement of illegal camping in city parks during the COVID-19 pandemic and homeless camps have grown in Benton County.
What may have been a surprise was if you drove past Pioneer Park again around the holidays, noticing that the parking lot was suddenly vacant. Campers and RV owners were asked to temporarily vacate the park while city officials cleaned up the area of trash and placed sanitation and hygiene equipment in the area for future camper use.
Pioneer Park is now re-open to a limited number of RV and tent campers with the addition of garbage receptacles, hand-washing stations, and outhouses. Another change is that anyone wishing to camp there will be required to contact the city for permission and will be subject to a background check. The background check aims to avoid allowing individuals with a violent history into the camp for the safety of others.
The city decided to limit the number of people permitted in the park as a way to protect the riparian area of the Mary’s River, as trash had been piling up near its banks and campers were threatened by encroaching high water as the river flooded in January. Limiting the number of permissible campers also allows for adequate social distancing to follow COVID-19 guidelines combatting spread of the virus.
In addition to Pioneer Park, a semi-managed campground with sanitation equipment is located near the BMX Park outside of the Men’s Shelter & Hygiene Center.
By: Lauren Zatkos