Pool debate has long history
Did you know that in 1990, the City of Lake Oswego voted on a Parks and Open Space bond (Ballot Measure 3-1), raising $12.2 million to acquire the open space land, easements, pathways and trails we now enjoy? Did you also know that the 1990 bond specified the monies would be spent for "acquisition of land for an indoor recreation and swimming pool complex"?
That measure overwhelmingly passed by 65% and the City began working off its Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan (J.C. Dragoo and Associates), including the purchase of the Luscher Farm/Taylor/Farr/Rassekh properties in the targeted Stafford road area. The City Council formally adopted the Luscher Farm master plan at its October 28, 1997 meeting, and issued a $7.3 million Parks bond in 1998 to begin development of these properties. Fifteen acres of the Luscher/Taylor/Farr contiguous plat and the entire 9.8 acre Rassekh parcel across Stafford road were designated for active recreation.
Since the passage of the two bonds, the playing fields throughout the city have been lit and turfed, pathways and trails built and connected, neighborhood park space and vistas preserved. But thirty years later, the City is still grappling with its obligation to provide space for the indoor recreation and swimming pool complex specified in the 1990 bond. In the interim, a pool built in the 1970s for use by LO High School became the City's public facility by default and not design.
When the City and school board leaders met April 9 to discuss an intergovernmental agreement (IGA), they reviewed Mahlum architects' Lakeridge Middle School preliminary master site plan. The plan laid out a 45,000-75,000 square foot swimming complex placement and required parking lot in the school's northeast corner by removing existing youth playing fields. They also discussed vetting potential sites for the swimming complex on City property. But nothing definitive was agreed and further discussion again deferred until after the upcoming vote on the Open Space, Parks, Recreation Land and Facilities bond (Ballot Measure 3-548).
This ballot measure specifies that uses of bond money will be guided by the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) with input from the public and the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Advisory (PRNRA) Board. The current CIP ranks Swimming Pools 18th, and without further public input, the City's new Parks & Rec headquarters will also not include space for a swimming complex.
The CIP will be discussed when the City's Budget Committee meets in City Hall, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 9, where it will also formalize the July 1, 2019-June 30, 2021 budget. The Budget Committee includes the seven City Council members and citizen members Al Calabria, Steve Dodds, Charles Erekson, Gerry Good, Scott Havens, Maulin Patel, Aaron Rapf. They are waiting to hear from you.
The public's input is critical to city and school planning. Is Lakeridge Middle School an optimized build site, what priority does the City give to this project through its CIP, what will the public's access be if LOSD ends up replicating the 1970's purpose-built facility?
Let's work together and not wait another 30 years for the answers.
Carolyn Heymann is a Lake Oswego resident.
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