April 2nd, 2011 | by AILIN DARLING News | Posted In: Schools, Transportation, Activism

Why Some Central Catholic Neighbors Are Mad

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Some residents around Central Catholic High School in Southeast Portland have formed a petition seeking to relocate the school after years of what they call struggling with limited space, parking and traffic issues.

As Central Catholic prepares to implement a $30 million expansion that would eliminate all but two on-site parking spaces, the campus' disgruntled neighbors have organized to stop the school from sprawling any more. They call themselves INCCH (Immediate Neighbors of Central Catholic High), and an online petition to relocate the school is only the latest example of neighbor frustration over more than two decades.

In addition to dozens of signatures, the petition has attracted several comments describing students' reckless driving, inconsiderate parent commuters and rowdy, trash-dumping crowds after weekend events. 

Representatives of INCCH have been meeting privately with school president John Harrington and a third-party mediator to discuss possible solutions.

Residents first complained in 1987 when Central Catholic expanded its campus a few years after becoming a co-ed school. In order to carry out plans to build a second gymnasium, the school entered a good neighbor agreement forbidding students to park on Southeast Oak and Pine streets west of 24th Avenue (PDF). However, members of INCCH say the agreement has not been enforced.

Representatives from each side will meet again on Wednesday, April 6 to compare new drafts of the Good Neighbor Agreement written by INCCH and Central Catholic respectively.

James Wood, one of the negotiators from INCCH, says he is "pessimistic" about the possibility of coming to an accord. "The only way we could fix things (without relocation) is if we tore down houses and built a real parking lot," says Wood, "But we're not willing to do that."

Still others are more hopeful. "If they had a parking lot to accommodate even half the cars, we would not be having this problem," says Charlie Christensen, another INCCH representative.

Christensen says he sent a link to online petition to members of the school's administration. Harrington says he is "aware of the petition, but it will not be part of our negotiations."

 
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