MEDFORD, Ore. — The Medford Police Department says that officers, city Parks staff, and volunteers worked over a period of two days to remove garbage from parts of the Bear Creek Greenway last week.
The effort focused on areas near Railroad Park and under the 10th and 12th Street bridges. In total, crews removed 70 cubic yards of garbage, including from the creek itself.
"Collected items included loose garbage, food wrappers, needles, cardboard, drug paraphernalia, and discarded plastic," MPD said. "All garbage removal was conducted during the day time and individuals were not asked or told to vacate the area."
The agency said that four people living along the Greenway were referred to the Urban Campground on Biddle Road and moved their belongings to the camp.
The City of Medford also worked with ODOT to clear a campsite on the southwest corner of the Exit 27 "and other identified areas within city limits."
Trash collected from these sweeps has increased 30 percent over last year's total, MPD said, which was a record.
"Often times the areas being cleaned have bio-waste and drug paraphernalia that have to be handled and disposed of carefully, making the cleanups not only hazardous from a human perspective but also from a health perspective," the agency continued.
Last week, the Medford City Council started to revisit its prohibited camping ordinance — considering ways that bans on camping in city limits can be tailored to areas like the Greenway, or the specific risks posed during fire season.
“Property ownership along the Greenway includes ODOT, Jackson County, City of Medford and private individuals and each have different rules of engagement with the residents of the camps and the resulting trash. We’re working with our state and local partners on a unified strategy to address these challenges,” said Deputy City Manager, Kelly Madding.
Past Greenway "sweeps" have been accompanied by police evicting transients and arresting any with outstanding warrants, or for new violations. MPD says that recent efforts to place the homeless at shelters like the Urban Campground "are indicative of the City’s dedication to assist our vulnerable population through a comprehensive effort of working with community partners to provide essential services such as housing, access to health care, food and more."