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Neighbors Upset Over Low-Income Housing Proposal

October 19, 2011

By Susan Gager

EUGENE, Ore. — Signs are popping up in north Eugene over a proposed low-income housing project.  St. Vincent de Paul wants to build more than 100 units for families in need. Neighbors of the planned project don’t want it built there. When neighbors caught wind of a proposed low-income project going up in northeast Eugene, they were upset. Now you’ll notice sign after sign in the neighborhood.

“We all wish to have affordable housing for those in need and for the workforce — for the people who work at the bank or the people who work at the fast food outlets,” said St. Vincent De Paul Director Terry McDonald.

Many in the neighborhood don’t want a low-income development nearby. So they put up signs all over the neighborhood to gather support against the proposed Bascom Village.

“You have the middle school just down the street so there’s a whole bunch of families and little kids running around here, and I just don’t think they want a whole bunch of riff raff running through.  It’s like giving someone a book of matches and telling them not to play with fire,” said Zack Caldwell, who grew up in Gilham Neighborhood.

The proposal as is would build more than 100 units on an empty lot, in 28 two to three-story block-style apartment buildings. It could potentially mean many new families entering the Gilham Elementary boundaries.

“Gilham is already bursting at the seams and really exhausting their resources,” said Alison Swan of Gilham Neighbor for Appropriate Housing.

Swan worries all those new students would overload teachers who already have big class sizes.

“I’m concerned that if we bring in extra students from this particular demographic which will include students that will probably have higher needs educationally that we may not be able to satisfy their needs,” Swan said.

Gilham Neighbors for Appropriate Housing even hired a lawyer to assess the traffic impact Bascom Village would have.

“They’re not making the street any wider, they’re going to have parking on the street, there’s no bicycle lane and the kids from that area will be walking down that street and riding their bikes down that street with the sixteen hundred vehicles,” said Jean Kingrey of Gilham Neighbor for Appropriate Housing.

Some neighbors decided to skip the signs.

“We did put trees in our backyard high enough so I don’t think they’re going to bother us,” said Merri Jean.

McDonald welcomes more discussion from the neighborhood. There will be a public meeting on October 26th at the Sheldon Community Center. It will give residents a chance to meet with city staff to voice their concerns.

Laura A. Hammond, Community Outreach & Participation Coordinator, responded saying this:

“The City has done some preliminary design work for the completion of Park View Street from Devon to County Farm. Currently, the plans would add 8 feet of paving on the south side of Park View to accommodate on street parking similar to that already on the north side of the street. Traffic calming measures have been taken into consideration and will be incorporated into the design. Landscaping buffers and street trees will also be added.”

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