Increased trail violence could end Portland kids bike camp - KPTV - FOX 12

Increased trail violence could end Portland kids bike camp

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

An increase of homelessness and violence along the metro area’s Springwater Corridor trails could mean the end of a poplar kid’s biking camp, the group’s director announced Monday.

Joe Kurmaskie said he’s halted registration for Camp Creative: No Kid Left Inside in a last-ditch effort to get the city to address safety concerns along various parts of the 22 mile pathways.

"It's heartbreaking," Kurmaskie said. "This isn't a rich kid's camp -- 40 percent are on scholarships."

Last month a man was arrested on charges of raping a woman on the trail. Last week, Portland police said a dog was mutilated and killed near the trail. Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said the corridor has seen a steady uptick in crime over the last few years.

“I’ve never seen the level of intimidation and nonsense going on so I had to pull the plug," Kurmaskie said, adding that people have thrown bottles at his head and shouted at him while he was on the path.

The first session of the camp, which partners with Portland Parks and Recreation, is scheduled to start in June. Attendees use the Springwater Corridor to bike with camp leaders to different activities around the city.

"We use it to go out to Gresham, to go blueberry picking, out to OMSI and downtown activities,” Kurmaskie said.

Ten-year-old Avery Leffler attended the camp last year and found out Monday morning the program will likely be canceled.

“I was kind of like, really? Ugh,” Leffler said.

Kurmaskie said roughly 80 other kids will also be disappointed — the number he expected to participate in what was expected to be expanded enrollment this summer. 

Kurmaskie said he took his concerns to the city months ago.

"I got zero response," he said. "No emails, no phone calls."

A city spokesperson said no record could be found of any correspondence from Kurmaskie. The city said it understands there is a problems and has commissioned a study seeking out solutions. Part of the challenge, it says, is that the trail runs through five different jurisdictions.

Portland Parks and Recreation said it was "surprised" by Kurmaskie's announcement to shutdown and camp and hopes a solution to possibly move the camp can be reached.

Kurmaskie said he's considering doing just that, but added that it's not the right answer to the problem.

“I want the city to step up -- the leaders to step up -- and do what’s right," Kurmaskie said.

Kurmaskie plans on meeting with parks and recreation Tuesday to talk about options for the camp.

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