'I would not have my family in the park. But now, that's a different story'

'I would not have my family in the park. But now, that's a different story' »Play Video
Skateboarders got their first crack at the new skatepark Friday

EUGENE, Ore. - Residents of Eugene are optimistic that the new WJ Skatepark and URban Plaza will change a part of town long blighted by drugs and violence.

"My very first experience when I lived here bringing my son out to that neighborhood, we actually saw needles," said Sara Puar. "So there were years that went by that I would not have my family in the park. But now, that's a different story."

"As of right now, before it's open, to be honest, no, I don't go walking after a certain time very often," said Daniel Criteser, who lives nearby. "So now, that's not something, but when it does go up, yes, absolutely I will."

Business owners are also excited, hoping families and children will feel more comfortable in the area.

"Washington-Jefferson Park has definitely been kind of a barricade from us connecting with the Whiteaker," said Rachael Whitney at the Keystone Cafe.

The park opened to the public at 3 p.m. Friday.

Regular hours will be from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

In the next few weeks, local artists will spruce up the space; wireless internet will be added; and new bathrooms will be complete.