Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.

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Continued investment is needed to maintain and expand park offerings as the city continues to grow

Parks and schools. Schools and parks.

The 1-2 ranking might change, but if you ask residents what brought them to Lake Oswego — or what has kept them here all their lives — you're more than likely to hear about those two resources as the pillars of the community.

So it's only fitting that on this year's May election ballot, voters are being asked to invest significantly in both of those areas. Last week, we strongly encouraged voters to approve the Lake Oswego School District's Learning Levy, and our recommendation is the same for a Lake Oswego parks, recreation and open space bond that is estimated to generate $30 million over the next 20 years.

The City would pay off the bonds using revenue from property taxes, and while this is technically a new bond it would operate in an almost identical fashion to the previous two that were approved in 1998 and 2002. Specifically, the tax rate would remain at or below the current figure — 24 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value. For a property with an assessed value of $500,000, that comes out to around $120 per year.

This seems perfectly reasonable when you consider what the $30 million could do for the City's parks system. Lake Oswego's offering of lush greenery, riverfront access, an intricate set of trails and plentiful recreation opportunities makes for a parks system that's already robust — but continued investment is needed to maintain and expand those offerings as the city continues to grow.

The parks department also faces some practical challenges that need to be addressed — namely, the fact that the department is currently operating without a centralized office. Employees are scattered at satellite offices across the city, and this is hardly an ideal way for such an important municipal asset to be running day-to-day operations. Advocates also bemoan the fact that the city does not have a public gym or recreation center, which limits opportunities for City-sponsored activities.

Park bond funds could be used to address some of these shortcomings, though a number of other efforts — land acquisition for new or expanded parks, the construction of new trails and even investment in a new pool that would be shared with the school district — will battle for funding if the bond is approved.

We — and you, the voters — would have the responsibility to watch closely as the funds are divided over the coming years in the event of a bond approval, and the reality is that some parties will be left disappointed when their pet projects don't make the cut.

But the City has proven to be an effective steward of bond funds in the past, and we have no reason to believe that will change. A poll taken last year showed 85% of respondents would likely vote for a new parks bond, which is a clear indication that parks are a priority for residents.

Let's avoid complacency, and continue to invest in what makes Lake Oswego special. Vote yes on Measure 3-548.

— Pamplin Media Group

Editorial board


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