Dangers on Springwater Corridor trail prompt summer camp to cancel

Dangers force kids summer camp to cancel

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A popular children's summer bicycle camp in Portland has been canceled.

The organizer says the Springwater Corridor Trail that the kids would use has become too dangerous. He's blaming the city and Portland's mayor for not doing enough to clean it up.

"Nine to 13-year-olds, I just can't put them in harm's way," said Joe Kurmaskie, director of Camp Creative: No Child Left Inside, for the past 8 years.

It's a summer camp in partnership with Portland Parks and Recreation where kids go bowling, read, visit science labs, art galleries and gardens, all by bike. The Springwater Corridor Trail is their path to get there. 21 smooth miles from Portland to Gresham.

But in the past year, tent camps were okayed and a criminal element has grown with them. Police said a woman on her bike was raped by a stranger. Last week a dog was stolen out of its yard and mutilated and killed along with many other near-attacks reported to emergency dispatchers.

Kurmaskie said he got no response to his calls and emails to the city, and now he is taking drastic measures.

"At a certain point it would irresponsbile of me as a camp director to take other people's precious cargo and put them on the trail. I do everything I can to make risk assessment and make them safe, but I can't at this point, in good conscious and it breaks my heart because we have so much fun."

Mayor Hales' office says the city is paying $40,000 for a firm called Oregon Solutions to study what they can do about the Springwater Trail. They'll look at the environmental impacts, maintenance issues, who's living on the trail and what are their mental and physical needs. Their findings are due in a few weeks, then the city of Portland will get together with Gresham, and Clackamas and Multnomah Counties about solutions and who will pay for what.

"I  think we've all been looking the other way too much, and that's why I didn't just cancel camp quietly, I'm talking to you," Kurmaskie said.

Mayor Hales' office says it's disappointed that a great camp like this is just canceling, instead of finding a different route for the kids. Kurmaskie says if they were to bus kids around, it would miss the point of the camp.

The Parks and Rec bureau says this is the first they've heard of it, and they'll try and look for a solution for the camp to come back.


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