Neighbors say roads near location of planned senior living cente - KPTV - FOX 12

Neighbors say roads near location of planned senior living center unsafe during winter

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Johnson Creek Boulevard is a road known to be treacherous any time there is a snow or ice event in the metro area.

Despite this, FOX 12 learned there are plans to build a senior assisted living center at the top of that hill. Plans hundreds of concerned homeowners are now fighting to stop.

The property in questions sits on the west slope of Mt. Scott, and was formerly set aside for an elementary school, but wound up being sold to Prestige Health Care years ago.

Since then, those who live in the neighborhood have been fighting the project tooth and nail. They believe the hill is not a safe place to build a facility for seniors.

There's no denying the view from the top of Johnson Creek Boulevard is breathtaking.

In theory, the peaceful neighborhood seems like the ideal spot to build a senior assisted living center. But, those who live in the area say this location is anything but ideal in the winter.

"It's a 14 percent winding grade road all the way up the hill," said co-founder of the Friends of Altamont Matthew Woodhouse. "Our only other access to the neighborhood is via a road called Idleman and a month ago there was a 20-car-pileup at the bottom."

Photos snapped by neighbors during snow and ice storms that slammed the metro area this winter demonstrate how treacherous the hill can be for drivers.

"We've had at least three situations, one where the ambulance was absolutely not able to make it up the hill, two where they were significantly delayed in providing services," said Friends of Altamont Communications Director Lynne St. Jean. "The last one, the fire crew had to walk in, because the ambulance couldn't make it up the hill."

It's because of all this, the neighborhood believes it would be a huge problem for Prestige Health Care to build a 200 bed senior care facility here. If any one of those seniors needs help in a snow storm, they're afraid they won't get it.

"Someone could die, at this point we feel Prestige Health Care and the City of Happy Valley are putting profits ahead of people," said Woodhouse.

The group launched a grassroots campaign to stop the facility from being built. They gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition they presented to the City of Happy Valley and their HOA pursued legal action, but in the end plans to build the senior living facility are moving forward.

"We're not disappointed we are absolutely furious," said Woodhouse.

Prestige Health Care issued this statement to FOX 12 about the situation which reads in part:

"While opponents to the construction of our community point to the impact of the recent snowstorm on traffic, the reality is that all area roads were impacted by the weather. At the beginning of this process, we met with local emergency-services agencies, and they've guaranteed us access to this neighborhood at all times of the year, even in severe winter storms and conditions."

The City of Happy Valley tells FOX 12 while Johnson Creek Boulevard is owned and maintained by Clackamas County in the event of an emergency, they would work together however necessary to ensure the public's safety.

"Do we really want to risk that, is it worth it to lose one life? What's the measurement," said St. Jean. "Is it 'oh, it's worth it until you lose 15, how about 25? How about if it's just your grandmother?'"

The group says for this reason; they're not giving up.

"I can't stand back, I can fight this and there's another 300 plus people living in this neighborhood that want to fight with me, and have been by my side since this started," said St. Jean. 

The Clackamas County Fire department tells FOX 12 they plan to use the alternate snow route and 4-wheel drive trucks to get to medical calls in the area when weather is bad.  

FOX 12 learned the City of Happy Valley will meet to further discuss the issue later this month.

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