A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Hanging out in center of a highway couplet

Written June 23rd, 2022 by Hasso Hering

At the traffic island between Ninth, Pacific, Santiam and Geary on Wednesday afternoon, June 22.

Surrounded by heavy traffic in the middle of Albany, there are two islands of lawn, flowers, bushes and trees. Lately the larger of the two has become a place for apparently homeless people to hang out.

A reader called my attention to this on Tuesday. “They were there about a month ago,” she wrote, adding that she had sent a message to the city manager at the time “to please not have our nice landscaped couplet get trashed. The police got them out, but they came right back.”

The bike took me there for a look on Wednesday afternoon, and I found three people surrounded by stuff.

I asked a guy what they were doing there. “None of your business,” he said.

When I suggested to the man that camping was not allowed on this patch of state property, he replied they were not camping. “It’s day use,” he said.

These park-like islands between the roads — Pacific Boulevard, Santiam Highway, Ninth Avenue and Geary Street — are owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation. But the Albany Parks Department manages and maintains the landscaping in what has become a nice asset in the middle of the city’s busiest set of intersections, the east end of the highway couplet of U.S. 20 and Oregon 99E.

The city parks crew runs into issues with people camping in the middle of the couplet islands from time to time, I learned from Rick Barnett, parks and facilities maintenance manager.

He said the police work on moving the campers, and when that’s been done, “we will come in and clean up the site.” (hh)

From Pacific Boulevard, the encampment under the trees on the trafffic island was impossible to see.





11 responses to “Hanging out in center of a highway couplet”

  1. MarK says:

    We’re being overwhelmed by the homeless and their garbage. Let’s elect a city council/mayor who will do something about, other than turn a blind eye.

    • Rachel La Brasseur says:

      Run for one then MarK. Let’s see how you’d take care of the problem.

      • MarK says:

        I may be deaf, but I’m not dumb.

      • centrist says:


      • Marilyn Smith says:

        The filing period is August 5-22. Three council seats and the mayor’s are open every even-numbered year. Details at http://www.cityofalbany.net/elections July 1.

        • Gordon L. Shadle says:

          Marilyn, if this is the best reply you can think of, as an outsider I continue to fear for the future of Albany.

          “I didn’t want to just walk away from helping to keep Albany improving and moving forward.” You said these words during your 2020 campaign.

          So what is your solution to improving Albany’s homeless problem? What specifically do you advocate to move Albany forward on this issue?

          Instead of a snarky response to “run for office”, please give MarK (and all of Hasso’s readers) a reply that inspires confidence that you are a force for improvement, as you promised.

          Your snarky reply just fed into MarK’s “blind eye” assertion. Is that the impression you want to leave with Albany voters?

          • Ray. Kopczynski says:

            Obvious trolls who offer zero solutions but like to rail & hide behind their anonymity are lucky to get accurate info (aka election specifics) even though they blithely dismiss it.

        • Mike quinn says:

          Marilyn. You always have the perfect answer the filing times for council and mayor, are you trying to get more ex-staffers on council, seems like we’ve had one in there all the time the last decade or 2 , what is YOUR platform for running, enlighten us, or is it a continuation of when staff speaks council and mayor jumps

          • Ray Kopczynski says:

            The Voters Pamphlet is very succinct :

            “I am running to represent you on the Albany City Council in Ward 3.
            I’ve lived here for 40 years and have been an observer and behind-the-
            scenes resident for all that time — 19 years as a newspaper reporter and
            the last 21 as spokesperson for the City of Albany.

            I retired in July. I like retirement, but I didn’t want to just walk away from
            helping to keep Albany improving and moving forward.

            I know our city government and I want to put my institutional memory,
            common sense, and skills back to work.

            I don’t have an agenda or dull axes to grind. Albany is my special interest.
            My training and experience as a journalist and doing government
            research keeps me looking for all angles and points of view. I work hard to
            solve problems. I listen, and I treat everyone with respect.

            I won’t lie to you.

            I’m grateful for your vote on November 3.”

            I’m guessing you missed her comments – they are 100% accurate – and I have disagreed with her on several issues…

  2. TLH-ALB1 says:


    Ya leave sugar out and do nothing to clean it up…ya get ants.

  3. rob norman says:

    city may have to follow others by offering “emergency safe-stay” camp facilities


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