Building a community asset
Eight years ago, my family moved to Lake Oswego for a quality public education for our two children, strong community and exceptional livability that is tough to find in a metro area. We have not been disappointed. The LO schools have been fantastic for our children, my wife has enjoyed being an active volunteer, soccer coach and National Charity League participant with our daughter, and Ive made great friendships coaching youth football for our son.
Little did I know that the Oregon construction company of which I am president would be awarded the contract to rebuild the Wizer Block.
Certainly, I have followed closely the healthy community debate, the robust deliberations of the City Council resulting in approval of the project and then the affirmation of that approval by LUBA. So let me say here to people who may still oppose the project: I have a stake in this community, and I am excited about delivering an exceptional project to our downtown one that I am convinced will become a tremendous community asset thanks to the care, thoughtfulness and well-integrated mix of uses designed for the redevelopment.
Overseeing the execution of this particular project for Lease Crutcher Lewis will be one of the highlights of my career. Our employee-owned company has a stellar reputation for award-winning, mixed-use projects. I am personally committed to making the buildings of Block 137 landmark buildings attractive and vibrant for our downtown. Our team will deliver the construction of the new Wizer Block as good neighbors organized, safe and communicative at all times. And my family looks forward to enjoying this ongoing renaissance of downtown Lake Oswego for many years to come.
A heartfelt thanks
The American Association of University Women Lake Oswego Branch wishes to thank member Sandra Hoover for her many years of service as our hospitality chairperson.
In this role, Hoover coordinated refreshments for all the branch meetings and provided beautiful table decorations as well. She gave a welcoming smile and delicious refreshments to numerous members and guests over the years.
We appreciate and thank Sandra Hoover for her valued contributions to promoting equity for women and girls through her service to AAUW Lake Oswego.
Preservation benefits the community
Theres gold in your attic! could also apply to our citys historic buildings. There are consequences to tearing down our older buildings and homes; we could be throwing away a major economic benefit. The gold is heritage tourism, which can provide long-term returns on investments in our historic resources.
Lake Oswego has the only remaining iron furnace west of the Rockies. The city helped finance the major restoration of the 1866 furnace and the only extant iron workers cottage. In addition, the Oswego Iron Heritage Trail guides visitors to these and other former industrial sites.
Promoting tourism, especially in light of the recent Oregon State Heritage Area designation and possible national designation, makes economic sense. Studies show that heritage travelers stay longer and spend more money than any others.
Visitors drawn to our city by the unique vestiges of the iron industry will also be attracted to our restaurants, shops, hotels and surrounding neighborhoods. For a city with such a long and rich history, its alarming that, as of the 2013 Comprehensive Plan update, we retained only 8 percent of the housing stock built prior to 1950.
Especially in the 1920s and 1930s, major Oregon architects were designing Lake Oswego homes, and many of these have been lost. The city, based on our Comprehensive Plans historic preservation goal, should encourage private property owners to retain older homes by providing real incentives to do so, funded by the hotel/motel tax. Charming streetscapes have often defined our neighborhood character, but this is changing with the increasing pace of demolitions.
Historic preservation is far too often viewed as a burden, but, given incentives and a shift in emphasis, it can be of tremendous positive benefit to our community. As Arthur Frommer observed, Tourism does not go to a city that has lost its soul.
Thanks for honesty
This letter is to someone I have never met. It is a huge thank you for being so honest and thoughtful.
On Saturday, I arrived home from shopping at Haggen Food & Pharmacy only to realize that my purse was not in the car. After searching frantically, I drove back to the store (trying not to break the speed limit), thinking of all that I had lost, the least of which was money.
When I rushed into the store and asked if it had been found, I was told that someone saw it in an empty cart in the parking lot and brought it in.
You gave me a wonderful Mothers Day gift! All we read or hear lately is bad news. You have made me remember that there is always good news that we never hear! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Neighbors support appeal
The letter from Bill Gordon in last weeks Review (One appeal too many, May 14) was incorrect and misleading.
First, the vote by the Evergreen Neighborhood Association Board to appeal LUBAs decision on the Wizer Block was not close. The board voted almost 2 to 1 to pursue the appeal. The board also noted in its discussion that the neighborhood had voted 5 to 1 against the project at a community meeting last year. Mr. Gordon offers no proof that a majority of the neighborhood is against the appeal. He delivered not one petition or email to the board in support of the allegation.
Second, the appeal is not being funded by one person. In fact, we have received over a dozen contributions, ranging from $50 to $5,000, in support of the effort. The prime supporter agreed to make up the difference.
Third, despite being a homeowner in the condos across from the project, Mr. Gordon has consistently supported the project. How many of your neighbors do so, Mr. Gordon? As president of the HOA, have you called a vote to determine support among your neighbors?
ENA board member
Editors note: The Review asked Bill Gordon to respond to questions asked by letter writer Gerry Good. Heres what Gordon had to say: The Evergreen board has surveyed the neighborhood on the project only once in September 2013. This was well prior to the public hearings and DRC meetings, the City Council appeal and the LUBA appeal. Given the long road traveled, the ENA board should have taken the pulse of the entire neighborhood on the Court of Appeals step.
And, yes, Im the president of the townhome HOA across the street from the Wizer Block. I live in harmony with my neighbors and interact with many of them. Many have chosen to be disengaged to avoid the rather sour debate. And most Ive spoken with tell me that the fight has been fought and that the project has been judged on its own merits under the citys code. Informal inquiries of the townhome board indicated that none of the five board members supported the Court of Appeals step, and only two of those board members have been active project supporters from the beginning.
The exact Rite Aid cure
Is both plain and obscure.
The choice of medication
Requires Rite information.
Aid for an abrasion
From a hostile confrontation
Has advice on the label
That says to be able
To keep safe for long
You must know Rite from wrong.
Residents want appeal
The Wizer Block developers original VI$ION sailed through our planning department and the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency like it was a done deal. When we objected to the number of apartments to be built, the mayor told us that this would be handled at the Development Review Commission. The LORA board (the City Council) sent it to the DRC with the agencys contribution of $4.7 million for fees and taxes, plus $749,000 for construction of the project. Thats $143 from every resident of Lake Oswego!
The DRC deliberated long and hard and sent the developer back for a redo. He came back with what amounts to a quarter-acre private park and 207 apartments (the equivalent of three 90,000-square-foot West End buildings) crammed onto one city block, right in the middle of our downtown.
The DRC said thanks, but no thanks. The developer exercised his right to appeal to City Council many of whom were on the 2013 LORA board. The council overturned the DRC decision and the opponents then exercised their right to appeal to LUBA. After LUBAs decision, the opponents are now appealing to the Court of Appeals as is their right.
Some say that theres no longer any real opposition to this project. We just need to gather together and move on. Thats simply not the case. In July 2014, the Evergreen neighborhood voted 142 to 31 against this project in an effort to get the developer to make it smaller. The Evergreen board is doing what our residents want us to do: either block this development or convince the developer to make it smaller.
Not much has changed. Its still a bad design, and the more I talk to folks about whats coming, the more I hear, What are they thinking?