MONMOUTH — In October 2016, Monmouth Engaged’s Bicycle Pedestrian Friendly Town Committee proposed creating a bicycle campground at Gentle Woods Park.
A year and a half later, the neighborhood around the park took notice. Signs stand in front of houses throughout the area stating “No camping in Gentle Woods.”
Committee members held a question-and-answer forum at the Monmouth Public Library on Feb. 13 to address concerns. Nearly 50 people turned out, many concerned about drug activity, safety, and transients already using the park. Questions came up about how the campground would be cleaned and monitored.
The proposed campground would be limited to four cyclists and two tents, said committee member Kyle Jansson. People wanting to use the park to camp would check in through the Monmouth Police Department no earlier than 3 p.m. and must leave by 10 a.m. the following day. Campers would be limited to a one-night stay.
Some residents of the area suggested using Main Street Park for a bicycle campground, or encouraging the local hotel to offer discounts to cyclists.
Committee representatives said Main Street Park is used throughout the summer for large, community events, such as Music in the Park and the Fourth of July festivities. Offering it for camping during the summer — peak bicycling season — didn’t make sense.
Debbie Bach, a resident, said she would have loved a campground like this when she was an active cyclist.
“I think you guys have done your research,” she said. “This would be wonderful. You have set up wonderful rules and regulations. We’re talking four people a night, and two tents.”
Another resident said he heard people talking about two different issues: camping and drugs.
“I don’t think they’re the same, cannabis and camping,” he said. “If we have an issue with Monmouth, it’s having four cannabis stores.”
Tonya Cable, whose family owns three homes bordering the park, said she wants to see the park remain a day-use only facility.
“We’re completely against this,” she said. “We’ve been dealing with the transient situation. The park should be closed at night.”
Susan Myers, member of the bike-ped committee, said offering camping may help solve some of the criminal elements observed at the park.
“When I was young and we wanted to go smoke pot, we didn’t want to be near other people,” she said. “We didn’t want to be near a place where we could be caught. Having a 50-year-old cyclist and his wife in that park — if I were up to something illicit, I would be somewhere else.”
If the council approves the proposal, it would be on a trial basis for one year.
For more information about the Monmouth Engaged committees, including how to join the Bike-Ped Friendly Town committee, see: ci.monmouth.or.us, or call 503-838-0722.