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Messages from City Officials regarding the closure of Hawthorne Park

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Messages from City Officials regarding the closure of Hawthorne Park
Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A message from City Manager Brian Sjothun

Dear Medford Residents,

The City of Medford is committed to helping our vulnerable citizens and recognizes the importance of providing a variety of options for unhoused individuals and families.
 
We ordered the closure of Hawthorne Park (pursuant to City Charter section 18(3)(e)) for 48 hours beginning at 7:00 a.m. on September 22 to allow for sanitation, cleaning and inspection of City property.
 
As we continue to keep the health and wellbeing of our citizens at the center of everything we do, we ordered the closure due to numerous reports of unsanctioned activities that posed a health and safety risk to citizens.
 
Over the past week, the Medford Police Livability Team worked with individuals in the park in an effort to connect everyone with resources and shelter opportunities. The team was able to connect over 30 individuals with shelters and local resources. There were a number of individuals who declined the offer for supportive services.
 
We realize that this is a complex and delicate subject that will take our efforts together as a community to develop healthy solutions for all. We ask for your support as we continue to build a culture that addresses homelessness in a compassionate and appropriate way.
 
If you have questions or concerns, please contact council@cityofmedford.org.
 
Sincerely,
Brian Sjothun
Medford City Manager
 
A message from Mayor Wheeler and Council President Kevin Stine

City staff and elected officials from the City of Medford recently learned of an unauthorized urban campground set up within Hawthorne Park.  While the City remains committed to helping the vulnerable citizens of our community, we do not endorse this urban campground setting, as it lacks the infrastructure to house people in a safe and effective environment.  This location lacks adequate sanitation services, mental health and substance abuse wrap-around services, and does not have the organizational structure to ensure continued public health.
 
The City has made major investments in achieving the Homeless System Action Plan goals as well as providing support for the Urban Campground, Kelly Shelter, Hope Village and the Medford Mission.  Each of these facilities have had beds and/or tents available this week.
 
Throughout the past week our Livability Team has been working with individuals to connect them with resources and shelter opportunities. Through this work, over 30 people have been placed in shelters and/or have been connected with services. Four individuals were transported to the Expo and over 30 individuals who were contacted did not accept services.
 
The health and sanitary conditions of Hawthorne Park posed a health and safety risk to citizens and warranted an immediate closure. Medford Parks and Recreation staff are thoroughly cleaning the park to ensure all trash, drug needles and human feces, are appropriately disposed of.
 
We support the decision of City Manager Brian Sjothun and Police Chief Scott Clauson, in working with multiple organizations to find an adequate location for those choosing to be assisted, along with the disbanding of the unauthorized camp. We continue to be committed to helping our vulnerable residents and providing healthy solutions for all.

Sincerely,
Mayor Wheeler and Council President Kevin Stine
 

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