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Gaddis protests development proposal


Last Wednesday, Oregon City resident Miriah Gaddis began collecting signatures in opposition to a 40-unit drug-and-alcohol residential rehabilitation center proposed on the Beavercreek Road site where her sister had been found murdered in 2002.

Central City Concern Executive Director Ed Blackburn noted that the project is intended as permanent housing for parents choosing to live in a clean and sober environment. On-site family mentors and CCC’s self-sufficiency staffers plan to work with families to help them continue to achieve success.

“Those individuals who identify as being in recovery will be tested and monitored for adherence,” Blackburn said. “Due to lengthy waiting lists, it is highly likely that individuals in recovery will have many months of recovery prior to moving into the building.”

by: FILE PHOTOS - Ashley Pond (left) and Miranda Gaddis.Gaddis, 23, fears that CCC, a Portland nonprofit, is attempting to develop a “halfway home” for drug addicts and homeless individuals on the Ward Weaver lot here. by: PHOTOS BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Miranda Gaddis and Ashley Pond are memorialized at the Beavercreek Road site where they had been found murdered in 2002.Weaver is serving a life sentence for sexually abusing and murdering 12-year-old Ashley Pond and 13-year-old Miranda Gaddis. His rental house there has been bulldozed, and the Beavercreek site, including the storage shed and concrete block where he had hidden their bodies, is now a field.

“I agree with Central City Concern’s mission to try to rehabilitate people,” Gaddis said. “But I’m worried about the safety issues for kids.”

Gaddis, whose mother has signaled support for the project, says she has no specific goal for numbers of signatures but is instead trying to raise awareness. She’d rather see the site become a playground or some other public facility for children.

“This (rehab) facility will have a negative impact on the local communities of Oregon City,” the signature sheets say. “It would decrease local property values as well as potentially harm businesses that are in the local vicinity.”

In her first hour collecting signatures, Gaddis received support from several residents of Forest Edge apartments who are concerned about sliding down the hill toward Newell Creek due to erosion. If the development paved an additional acre, even if planners implemented techniques for water-drainage mitigation, it could have a serious negative impact on the drainage of the lower properties, they said.

Oregon City’s Mapping Portal shows CCC’s proposed housing development on Beavercreek Road is not in a landslide buffer zone. CCC also contracted with an independent geotechnical company in July for a full environmental review as part of its federal funding application.

“According to that review, the property is defined as sloped in the smallest category of 0-10 percent,” Blackburn said. “There are no signs of unstable soils in the vicinity, and soil was not found to be highly erodible.”

Forest Edge resident Darci Rae Mundale thought of her daughter who’s now in middle school as she signed the form.

“I lived in Gladstone when it first happened, but I brought my 2-year-old daughter here to leave flowers,” Mundale said.

Neighborhood concerns

As both a business and building owner across Fir Street from the proposed developments, Greg Rogers also has “serious concerns” about the project. Developers have said that they are looking forward to working with family members to plan memorials for Ashley Pond or Miranda Gaddis. But no significant location is indicted on architectural renderings.

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Miriah Gaddis collects a signature from Darci Rae Mundale in opposition to a 40-unit drug-and-alcohol residential rehabilitation center proposed in Oregon City.“Given that the scars of this tragedy are still fresh here in Oregon City, it would seem that more thought and dedication should be given,” Rodgers said. “Anecdotally, large numbers of our clients comment that the lot should never be developed and left as-is.”

CCC officials have heard from other friends and family members of that the community wishes to see a memorial for Pond and Gaddis.

“If the project goes forward, Central City Concern has every intention of honoring the victims in a respectful way and is open to receiving input on this matter,” Blackburn said.

Given the circumstances of the individuals who would be moving into the proposed apartments, there is concern about crime spilling out into the surrounding neighborhoods. Finding that CCC hadn’t released tracked crime statistics of surrounding neighborhoods where it develops projects, Gaddis and Rogers followed up with local law enforcement.

But CCC manages 88 units of similar family housing scattered throughout the Portland metro area and reviewed criminal activity this year from January through September in those areas. The agency found that its buildings had a significantly lower rate of criminal conduct than the surrounding neighborhoods within a half mile of its buildings.

“In all of CCC’s family housing, there were only two instances of criminal conduct and in both instances, CCC and residents were the victims of the crimes, with no evidence that CCC residents were involved in commission of the crimes,” Blackburn said. “In contrast, there were a total of 1,044 instances of criminal conduct with police involvement in the surrounding neighborhoods during the same period.”

Rogers also is concerned that Oregon City is reducing the parking requirement by 25 percent and only requiring 50 spaces. He argues that even residents at high poverty levels can have multiple cars and wouldn’t have space to park.

Blackburn confirmed that many CCC tenants do not have vehicles. “Because the number of parking spaces meets code, Central City Concern believes that the parking will be more than adequate for the building,” he said.

With right-turn-only traffic onto Beavercreek, where traffic accidents already are common, it may be difficult for anyone to turn left. They either have to turn right, pull into a private drive, turn around and then turn left; or they turn right slightly until they pass the median and then make a U-turn.

Gaddis says there are a lots of reasons that it’s a “sore spot” for herself, the development and the community.

“I’m not trying to stop the project, but I am trying to change its location,” she said.

CCC maintains this housing would be a safe place for families to live in Oregon City.

“Central City Concern is saddened at the disparaging and discriminatory tone used by some individuals commenting on the project,” Blackburn said. “It is also worth noting that this project has drawn verbal and written support from many community members.”