EUGENE, Ore. - Residents of Eugene are optimistic that the new WJ Skatepark and URban Plaza will change a part of town long blighted by drugs and violence.
"My very first experience when I lived here bringing my son out to that neighborhood, we actually saw needles," said Sara Puar. "So there were years that went by that I would not have my family in the park. But now, that's a different story."
"As of right now, before it's open, to be honest, no, I don't go walking after a certain time very often," said Daniel Criteser, who lives nearby. "So now, that's not something, but when it does go up, yes, absolutely I will."
Business owners are also excited, hoping families and children will feel more comfortable in the area.
"Washington-Jefferson Park has definitely been kind of a barricade from us connecting with the Whiteaker," said Rachael Whitney at the Keystone Cafe.
The park opened to the public at 3 p.m. Friday.
Regular hours will be from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
In the next few weeks, local artists will spruce up the space; wireless internet will be added; and new bathrooms will be complete.