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Elvis Clark and Kathy Najdek: Metro-funded study led by folks with ties to city of Milwaukie, previous Metro projects

COURTESY PHOTO - Clackamas County officials are eyeing the former Concord School in Oak Grove as a site for a new library and park.We very much appreciate the Oak Lodge Water Services District Board's Nov. 30 letter sent to the Oak Lodge Governance Project.

It very much expresses our concerns, and no doubt reflects the concerns of many residing in Oak Grove and the Jennings Lodge areas.

We especially concur with the letter's sentence: "The board is genuinely concerned about the transparency for our customers to understand what is going on, why it is going on and that they have an opportunity to provide comment."

We could not agree more with the board's reticence about this Metro-funded study as it is currently structured.

We are very much suspicious of this Metro "governance project." The study comes at a time when two Milwaukie city councilors pressured the Board of County Commissioners to push along considerations of either allowing Milwaukie to annex the Oak Lodge area or having the Oak Lodge area incorporate itself.

One of the members of the governance project is Joseph Edge, a sitting Milwaukie planning commissioner, who was appointed to the planning commission by the elected mayor and councilors for the city of Milwaukie.

There also is a lingering distrust of Metro government's intentions for the Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge area. In the mid-1990s Metro designated this area as a town center, with the intention to rezone its neighborhoods and encourage greater population densities.

Oak Grove residents strongly protested Metro's intended designs. Subsequently, then-Clackamas County Chair Judie Hammerstad sent a letter to Metro, requesting and getting Metro to remove the town center designation for the unincorporated Oak Grove/Jennings Lodge area.

Fast forward to this fall 2020, and outgoing Chair Jim Bernard is quoted as saying about this current governance project: "… it is necessary that this be a grassroots, community-led initiative."

Obviously, the current approach is not a grassroots, community-led effort, not when it is led by folks with ties to the city of Milwaukie and previous Metro-related projects.

Elvis Clark is a Milwaukie resident, and Kathy Najdek is an Oak Grove resident.


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