Youll often see a park host living in an RV at a county park or state campground, but Oregon Citys program is unique for an urban area. Among five park-host spots citywide, full-time RVers Tim and Sandy Yocom have lived at Hillendale Park since October 2012.
In exchange for free electricity, water and sewage, every day they mop the parks bathroom floors, empty its garbage cans, pick up trash and clean up after large gatherings of people who rent the park shelter for parties. They take pride in keeping cigarette butts, cans and glass bottles out of the Hillendale pond where ducks live near Beavercreek Road.
But they said they were taken by surprise when the city sent them a notice to be out of the park by Jan. 16. The city of Oregon City appreciates your service and thanks you, wrote Denise Kai, assistant park-department director, in a letter providing the Yocums their 30-day notice to leave the park. A similar letter went to Wesley Lynn Park for a Jan. 21 eviction.
Its affecting us personally, because we had planned on being here at least until spring, Yocum said. Im volunteering for the Gleaners so that my wife and I can get a regular food box, which helps with our expenses, but Im not sure where well go after this.
Park staff often must refill these volunteer positions in the five parks where people come and go, said Community Services Director Scott Archer. Agreements between the city and its RV tenants try to make clear that the positions are temporary.
As part of our management and normal process, theyre supposed to turn over on a fairly regular basis, Archer said. If people have been at a site too long, then we look to avoid creating the impression that its permanent, and most people understand that.
Most of OCs park hosts also get a four-wheeler to drive around garbage and equipment. Established more than a decade ago, its been a really successful program for the city, and given our very lean staffing, its been quite beneficial, Archer said. Its presence for security on-site, good public outreach and if theres a problem, people can go to the park host.
The park host at Chapin Park left not long ago, and a Port-a-Potty was put in place of its closed restroom facility. The Clackamette RV Park and Park Place are the two other parks of the approximately 25 total in Oregon City that have participated in the park-host program, and Archer expects the program to continue as usual.
Fortunately, the timing of these is such that its in our slower maintenance period, and our intention is to have those filled by spring when our busy season starts up again, Archer said.
Larry Potter, the longtime Oregon City parks manager who signed up the Yocums for the volunteer position, retired in November to take advantage of Oregon public-employee retirement benefits expiring at the end of 2013.
As manager of Mt. View Cemetery, Potter proposed space and helped advocates through the long process to get permission from other city departments to build the Parents of Murdered Children Memorial that was completed last year. After two different pre-Halloween attacks in three years, Oregon Citys Parks Department offered $500 rewards for information as Potter offered strong words advocating that the public help bring the cemetery vandals to justice.
Archer said that Potters position will be advertised starting in the spring at orcity.org/humanresources.
For information on how to apply to become a park host, call the Oregon City Parks & Recreation Department at 503-496-1201.