PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland parks crews are cleaning up Chapman and Lownsdale Squares Monday, a day after police cleared out the Occupy Portland protesters who lived there for more than a month.
City employees arrived at 7 a.m. to assess the damage and remove large items that were still in the parks. They returned to spread straw on the ground during the afternoon to control the mud.
“We’re hoping that no matter what the problems are we have the people to fix it,” said Parks and Recreation Department spokesman Mark Ross. “We’re hoping this assessment process takes about a week and then based on what needs to be done, we’ll take it from there.”
Crews hauled more than 70 dump trucks full of garbage out of the parks through the weekend. Workers told KATU News they found everything from feces to furniture in the mounds of debris.
"There's some dangerous stuff in there," said Terry Carvalho with the Portland Maintenance Bureau. "A lot of nails, a lot of sharp objects, a lot of glass, a lot of clothing, a lot of food. I had a little bucket of pee in there. It's nasty stuff."
Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, the commissioner in charge of city parks, told KATU News Monday he’s happy the city has the parks back.
“The occupation of these two parks had to come to an end,” said Fish. “They just weren’t designed for long-term encampments and we saw that on a regular basis.”
“I was pleased it was largely a peaceful weekend. We now have both parks back and now the hard work begins of restoring them,” Fish said.
Commissioner Fish says he’s optimistic the total cost to restore the parks will be less than $100,000.
“It looks like a destroyed park that’s going to take an awful lot of work to put it back together,” said Steve Hawkins, who works near the parks. “It’s going to cost a lot of people who live in Portland and Oregon to repair it.”
Ross says the job is not as simple as laying down some new grass.
“Because of the camping, the grade of the grass instead of flat has now shifted angles,” said Ross. “Tree roots have been compromised. These parks were never meant for camping.”
Commissioner Fish says he hopes the next phase of the Occupy Portland movement focuses more on the issues.
“I think it’s time to turn from camping to long-term political engagement," he said.