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Bethel schools to hold listening sessions over homeless house

The nine meetings will be spread out over three days.

Posted: Jul. 18, 2018 12:28 AM
Updated: Jul. 18, 2018 12:56 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Bethel School District is hosting a series of listening sessions on a proposed youth house for homeless teenage boys.

At a school board meeting on Tuesday night, leaders said more than a thousand mailers went out last week to residents in the Meadow View School area on the proposed 13-bed youth house near Avalon and Legacy streets.

Residents who got the postcards are invited to register online to attend the August listening sessions, which the school district and St. Vincent de Paul are hosting to get feedback on the proposed youth house.

Last month, St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, a large nonprofit human services organization, announced plans to lease property from Bethel schools to build the house for homeless boys. But in June, an angry group of neighbors confronted St. Vincent de Paul leaders, saying the proposed house would be too close to Meadow View School and Bethel Community Park. Neighbors also complained that they had been kept in the dark over the project, something officials denied.

On Tuesday night, a spokesman for Bethel schools said the house would pose no threat to the neighborhood. "The students who would be living in these homes are not criminals," said Pat McGillivray. "They're not pedophiles, they're not thieves. They're students who are in our schools right now. We should treat them as every other student rather than labeling them as criminals or thieves or someone who's going to harm other students."

The listening sessions will be held at the Fairfield Baptist Church, 3991 Elmira Road, on Aug. 1, 2, and 3. There will be three sessions per day: 9 a.m. to noon; 1 to 4 p.m.; and 5 to 8 p.m. The meetings are only for people who live in the Meadowview School area and who register online in advance. Registration instructions were included on the postcards send out last week.

Anyone who lives in the Meadowview School area who did not get a postcard in the mail and who wants to attend a listening session can call Paul Neville at St. Vincent de Paul at 541-742-7121.

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