Drug rehab center plans to expand but neighborhood doesn't want it

OREGON CITY, Ore. - Would you be willing to have a 24-hour drug treatment center in your neighborhood?

Some people in Oregon City may not have a choice, but they're trying to fight it. They don't want to the Portland Metro Men's Center to be allowed to add a two-story dormitory and house men with addictions.

"A lot of people agree we need this type of facility, but just not here. You don't need it in a neighborhood like this," said David Knoy, who lives across the street from the treatment center. "You shouldn't have to live in your community and be under that kind of stress."

Knoy feels the facility would be better suited in a commercial area. He's going door-to-door in his neighborhood to make people aware of the possible changes. He hopes they will all voice their opinions at a public hearing on Feb. 10 and said he hasn't heard from anyone who wants to allow the expansion.

The facility's program directors insist there is no reason to worry.

"This dorm would be secured, and we'd know if anybody opens the door," said Executive Director Garry Wallace. "Their families are proud of them, their marriages are being restored and children are being restored to their dads."

The facility moved in late 2012 to a church on Warner Parrot Road in Oregon City from its location on Northeast Sandy Boulevard in Portland.

He said the new spot is better for the men in the program.

"We shared a common wall with a porn shop, and we had a bar across the street," Wallace said about the previous location. "That made it very difficult for our guys to overcome."

For now, the men in the year-long program live in an apartment complex on Southeast Foster and are bused back and forth to the Oregon City facility. Wallace said it adds an hour and a half commute to the day, and the program could be run more efficiently if it was all in-house.

There is no government oversight of the facility, but Wallace insists every applicant undergoes a background check. He said sex offenders and criminals with a violent past are not allowed. He also points to monthly drug testing as a safety measure.

None of that is good enough to ease Knoy's concerns.

"There's a school right down the street here," he said. "Why would they think the community here would want those type of people?"

Oregon City officials said they will follow the city process in making a decision.

"The City is always concerned about the safety and general welfare if its neighborhoods as well as our obligation to process land use applications," Tony Konkol, Oregon City's Community Development Director, said in an email response to KATU. "The decision-making bodies in this case are required to make impartial decisions based upon criterion in the applicable zoning provisions of the code."

A public hearing will be held Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. Written comments will be accepted until Jan. 30 or at the meeting.