Hillsboro residents living in a small neighborhood just north of The Cooler Club on Tualatin Valley Highway are upset about reports the former tavern is planning to reopen as a strip club named Gems.

“I’m not all right with that,” said Katherine Longstreet, who moved to a house within half a mile of the club two years ago with her husband, Daniel, and their daughter, who is now a 3-year-old.

Longstreet said she and other nearby residents are talking about circulating petitions opposing the change and presenting them to the Hillsboro City Council. She explained they fear crime will increase and children will get the impression it is acceptable for men to consider women as nothing more than sex objects.

“We’ve completely remodeled our home since moving into it. I don’t want our property values to decrease, which is what will happen,” said HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Katherine Longstreet, who has lived in the Hillsboro community for more than four years, came to the Hillsboro City Council meeting Tuesday evening with her daughter, Ragan, 3, to express concerns about the proposed opening of a strip club on TV Highway.

Patrick Preston, Hillsboro’s public affairs manager, said Planning Bureau employees are studying whether there is anything the city can do to prevent the tavern from becoming a strip club.

The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that free speech provisions of the state constitution protect nude dancing, and Oregon voters have repeatedly defeated proposed constitutional amendments to allow local governments to regulate adult businesses at the ballot box.

Tavern owner Frank Hurliman confirmed that The Cooler Club will reopen as a strip club, but he declined to indicate when that might be. If and when it happens, it will likely be the first strip club business inside the city limits in 25 years, according to Lt. Mike Rouches, a spokesman for the Hillsboro Police Department.

“Some people think there may have been one before then, but they can’t remember where it was,” said Rouches.

The Cooler Club is located at 1735 S.E. Tualatin Valley Highway in Hillsboro, with the neighborhood where the Longstreets live just north of the tavern.

The neighborhood is bordered by 13th Avenue to the west, 18th Avenue to the east, Bush Street to the south and Spruce Street to the north.

Longstreet said many families with children live there, along with a number of retirees.

“People I talk to are very upset,” she said.

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