PORTLAND, Ore. -- Homeowners in Northeast Portland are mourning the loss of a decades-old neighbor, a favorite among local kids.
“I cry thinking about it,” said Kay Brown, whose husband used to umpire kids’ baseball games.
Brown stood on her deck Wednesday, looking over the Parkrose Little League field, a property now overgrown with weeds and tall grass.
It’s also littered with hypodermic needles, broken glass and other hazards.
It’s the work, said Melissa Fritz, of homeless campers who refuse to leave.
“Last year, it started getting really bad,” she said.
Fritz is the president of Parkside Little League, the nonprofit that owns and maintains the field, along with four others.
The league combines kids, ages four to 14, from Parkrose and Lakeside Schools.
She said Wednesday, board members hit their breaking point last year, when a little boy came running in from the outfield with a hypodermic needle sticking into his shoe.
No one’s played on the field since. The board deemed it too big of a hazard.
“We would constantly be chasing people away whether they’re doing drugs right on the benches or in the dugout,” she said, pointing to a dugout along the south side of the field, which has been torn apart. “We have found certain pornography and other kind of stuff.”
She added a team showed up for practice last year, to find couples having sex in that dugout.
“The coaches saw them,” she said.
Adding to the frustration, Fritz said the board recently learned cleaning up the field now comes at too great a cost.
The league would be forced to bring in biohazard crews, who would take on liability, if and when someone is injured by broken glass or a stray needle in the future.
At minimum, that would cost them $3,500.
She confirmed league directors are in talks to sell the field to Green Canopy, an eco-friendly developer, based in Seattle.
Neighbors say staff there held a meeting at David Douglas High School and talked about building a complex of three-story townhouses.
KGW has reached out to Green Canopy and will update this story with their response.
Fritz hopes the sale will be finalized by Spring of 2018.
“It’s very sad because my son grew up playing here. This is where I spent my Saturdays,” said Fritz. “But it’s life. It’s what’s happening right now, and so we have to figure out what’s in the best interest of the kids.”
Fritz said she couldn’t confirm how much the two-acre property is on the market for, but she said money from the sale will go toward developing a new baseball field on a piece of land donated to the league by Helensview High School.