Neighbors fight expanded access to Masonic Homes - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Neighbors fight expanded access to Masonic Homes

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Road access to Masonic Homes is causing quite a stir among neighbors in St. Matthews, as the campus looks to expand it's vehicle entrances to residential streets.

Masonic Homes has gone to the Metro Planning Commission, asking permission to open up four roads for access to the campus. The proposal would allow residents and staff to enter the 83-acre campus from Leland Road and Washington Square, while providing exits to Chenoweth Lane from Ormond Road and Elmwood Avenue.

Neighbors have been fighting the proposal, saying the changes would create more traffic in their quiet neighborhoods. They also say, without sidewalks on those roads, it will make it more dangerous for pedestrians.

Julie Leakes has lived on Elmwood Avenue for 39 years. With her husband in a wheelchair, and no sidewalk until they reach Chenoweth Lane, she has safety concerns with the possibility of increased traffic.

"If we're going to go out on a close by errand, we're not going to load the wheelchair into the van, we're going to walk and roll," she said. "Safe walking on the street depends on minimal traffic."

But Masonic Homes assures that only employees and residents who have registered vehicles will be allowed to use the residential accesses. CJ Parrish with Masonic Homes says they currently have fewer than 500 registered cars.

"We have 420 employees on our campus, and not all of them drive to work--many take public transportation or carpool," she said. "A lot wouldn't use the eastside access anyway because they live south or west of the campus."

Parrish also says the railroad tracks in front of the Frankfort Avenue entrance are an on-going issue not only for safety and convenience, but in getting employees to work on time.

"It's really critical when you're dealing with a fragile population of seniors and children, that you arrive to work on time--especially on a shift change where you can communicate valuable information about what happened to that person during a previous shift," said Parrish.

But neighbors say Masonic Homes promised 30 years ago they wouldn't fight for residential access, knowing neighbors didn't like the plan. In 1983, Masonic Homes was prohibited from using five streets that extend from its campus to Chenoweth Lane by a Binding Element.

But Parrish said the campus has grown exponentially since then and they need the expanded access.

"In 1983 when these binding elements were imposed, we had 100 widows that lived on the campus, one orphan, and fewer than 100 employees," she said. "The time has changed, and the time is now."

The Metro Planning Commission was set to vote on the issue Monday night. As of 11 p.m., no decision had been made.

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