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Citizen's View: Wizer Block 'still worth the fight'

Re: Editor Gary M. Stein’s editorial (“It’s time for LO to move forward with Wizer project,” April 30): Mr. Stein believes it is time “for opponents to drop their appeal.” I disagree.

Stein does agree with Save Our Village and the majority of Lake Oswego residents that Patrick Kessi’s proposal for the Wizer Block does not complement our downtown and that “it will be too big and too dense for the corner of A Avenue and First Street,” a flagship corner. As Stein states, “the infrastructure now in place will not be able to handle the influx of cars and residents ... that will be located there.”

A project that is too large, too dense and will create traffic and parking problems will seriously impact the quality of life and village character that we have worked to develop in our downtown core. I can hardly think of any hometown qualities more important to fight for than these qualities. To paraphrase Alexander Hamilton,”If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”

Sadly, some of our leadership may have fallen for this misplaced project. Had City Council upheld our Development Review Commission, a new, more fitting proposal may have resulted.

Obviously, we are not fighting a war, nor are we making history. But if you believe a cause is just and right, one does not walk away because of setbacks. Where would Europe be if Churchill had given up the fight when the bombs were falling over London? Where would America be if Lincoln had given up? Where would aviation be if the Wright Brothers packed it in after their first passenger death?

Had we citizens not fought back two years ago against the initial Kessi proposal, we would be staring at a regrettable five-story, monolithic project that citizens deemed an “institutional mega-monster.” Because we fought back, the developer was forced to at least slightly reduce the density and, in Kessi’s own words, “transition to traditional” design. Unfortunately, the current proposal still does not complement our downtown village character and it is still worth the fight.

If we prevail at the Court of Appeals, perhaps Gene Wizer will reduce his price and a developer will propose a redevelopment that the majority of citizens can wholeheartedly embrace. Winston Churchhill said it best: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Leslie Pirrotta is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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