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LOSD continues talks with City for pool funding and considers new locations

The Lake Oswego School District is now considering four possible locations for a new pool, according to a presentation by Executive Director of Project Management Tony Vandenberg at Monday night's school board meeting.

The design and development of a new district pool has been unfolding over the last two years, but many say the need for a new pool has been around much longer. The new pool will be partially funded by a $187 million school bond measure approved by voters in May 2017, which included $7 million for updating or replacing the current pool.

However, early cost estimates showed that the district would need additional funding for the pool beyond the $7 million allocation. The district has held multiple joint meetings with the Lake Oswego City Council and the Parks Board to work out a possible partnership. The hope is that the City would slate some of the funding from the $30 million parks bond passed in May 2019 to build a community pool and possible recreation center. While no agreement has been finalized, Vandenberg told the school board that he is optimistic about the City's involvement.

"We've begun to have detailed conversations with the city of Lake Oswego, looking at what it would take to begin a partnership," Vandenberg said. "It is a great opportunity for us to partner with the City. Ivan (Anderholm, director of Parks and Recreation) and I have a very good working relationship right now, and have similar ideas for how to make this work."

The school board held a joint meeting with the City Council in September, at which many City Council members expressed support for the partnership. City Manager Martha Bennett said at that meeting that the council needs to determine how much of $30 million parks the City wants to reserve for a pool, but the council will need to first answer questions about funding for other park improvement projects. That process is ongoing.

The school board determined in April 2018 that the campus of Lakeridge Middle School would be the most likely site of the new pool, but issues with the site have surfaced since — including space restraints, expansive soil and underground boulders — which prompted the district to look for other possible sites.

The district hired Opsis Architecture in late August to provide a work plan and design for the new district pool, as well as assist in evaluating other sites.

In addition to Lakeridge Middle School, Vandenberg said the district is now considering a City-owned green space south of Lakeridge High School off of Stafford Road, the Lake Oswego Municipal Golf Course, and the campus of Lake Oswego High School as possible sites for the pool. The district will hold an open house to discuss these four site options Nov. 6, at which point Vandenberg hopes to narrow the scope to only two options.

Before a site can be chosen, however, the size and scope of the pool must be determined. While Vandenberg said a lot of this work has already been done by the Pool Task Force and Athletic Facilities Committee, the conversation will continue into November. Vandenberg and his team will "review existing background information and reports provided by LOSD and LOP&R (Parks & Rec) and develop a comprehensive space program document that reflects the educational needs of LOSD and the community needs of LOP&R," Vandenberg wrote in an information packet presented to the board. "This effort will include developing a variety of aquatic program scenarios for a competition pool, recreation pool, dry land fitness and community amenities."

The district hopes to have funding for the project in place by March, according to Vandenberg. He added that the district is considering the possibility of adding on certain elements over time if the funding is not available during the initial pool construction, including the recreation pool, dry land fitness and community program spaces.

Superintendent Lora de la Cruz echoed Vandenberg's belief that the City will be a viable partner. "The City Manager Martha Bennett and I have been in very close contact," she said. "I'm confident that between close contact with the parks director and the city manager, that we're building a plan that's in sync."

School board member Kirsten Aird expressed reservations about relying on City dollars without a confirmed partnership. "These are all public dollars and everyone wants to see them invested in a way that is meaningful, but I am interested in having another conversation with the City, because I still don't know where they're at, and I am concerned about us taking a gigantic leap forward without (knowing that). I think more conversation is important."

Board member John Wallin expressed similar concerns. "We've been talking about this since we started the bond two years ago. These are pieces of property that have been talked about in the past and dismissed, so I am concerned," he said. "The timeline worries me."

Board member Liz Hartman, however, remained optimistic. "I think at any time there's the possibility that anything can completely fall apart. But I have never seen so many studies put together and so much public input coming in. I don't think we've ever had such a clear relationship with the City," she said. "I don't think there's ever been a time in this city that we had so many players working together toward the same goal."

The school board and City Council held a joint meeting this past April to discuss the pool.

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