Lake Oswego Parks & Rec faces another transition
When Lake Oswego's Parks & Recreation Department moved into its temporary headquarters at the former Palisades Elementary School in 2015, it capped off a rapid-fire process in which the department had only three months to plan a successful transition from its home in the West End Building.
Now the lease on Palisades is set to expire on June 30, and the department will have to pull off the same maneuver again — only this time without a centralized destination.
"This is going to be a little trickier," says Parks & Recreation Director Ivan Anderholm, "because we don't have a landing spot yet for our programming spaces."
The Lake Oswego School District closed Palisades as a cost-saving measure during the recession; years later, LOSD officials signed a three-year lease with the City to allow Parks & Rec to use the space when the West End Building was sold to Yakima Products Inc.
The agreement carried the possibility of one or two year-long extensions if both parties agreed, but the district notified the City in December that it would not be renewing the lease because Palisades is needed to house classrooms displaced by upcoming construction related to last year's school bond.
Beginning in mid- to late August, Palisades also will be used for Community School programming, including preschool and pre-K programs, and the district's extended-day offerings.
"We've known that it was a possibility at the end of three years," Anderholm says. "We were hoping that we'd have it a little longer, but that's the way it goes. We really have to be agile and flexible with what we do, and luckily we have a strong staff that operates in that kind of arena."
The City Council is currently working to find a permanent home for the department, with the municipal golf course being discussed as one possibility. But even if a location is chosen in the next few months, it will likely take years to design and construct a new building, so Parks & Rec will need temporary spaces in the interim.
In the immediate future, Anderholm says, the plan is to divide up the staff and activities currently housed at Palisades and send them to several new locations. That includes administrative staff, project staff and staff from the sports and cultural divisions, along with the Teen Lounge and multiple programming spaces.
The first transition will take place in March. Five administrative staff — including Anderholm — will move to offices inside the clubhouse building at the municipal golf course, which will serve as the central public-facing front desk for the department.
"We're planning on having our new front desk administrator set up at the golf clubhouse by April 1," Anderholm says, "so we just have one desk for all of our summer registration, which starts April 9."
Staff from the sports and cultural divisions will be moving into new office spaces in the farmhouse at the City-owned Luscher Farm. Several staff members in those departments are part-time with varying work schedules, Anderholm says, so some of the new workstations at Luscher will be used by multiple people.
Anderholm says the clubhouse and farmhouse locations were chosen to try to minimize the cost of the temporary relocation by avoiding renting any new buildings or spaces for the department's administrative functions.
"Any dollars that we spend on space will be space that really has a direct impact on the public and is a place for them to come and take advantage of the opportunities we provide," he says.
The transition to the Luscher offices will take a bit longer, Anderholm says, because the department plans to keep offering some of its recreation programs at Palisades through the end of May, and possibly even into June. After that, some of the more adult-oriented physical activity classes, such as yoga and tai-chi, will be moving to the Adult Community Center in First Addition.
The department's usual slate of summer camp programs — along with the remaining youth-oriented physical activity programs — will be moving to the Lakeridge Junior High School campus, using space in the former Bryant Elementary School building. Anderholm says final details are still being negotiated with the school district, but the tentative plan is for the department to move into the space at Bryant in June and stay until the third week of August.
That will just leave the Teen Lounge at Palisades, but Anderholm says that program doesn't operate during the summer anyway — the space is usually used by the camp programs.
"As far as this upcoming summer, we're in really good shape for being able to replicate what we (usually) do," he says. "We found the spaces that we need for continuation of all of our services through August, and we're really happy about that."
The activity programs at Lakeridge will need a new home in the fall, and Anderholm says the department is currently scouting possible commercial or nonprofit spaces that could be rented for the next few years. He says it's possible that some of the department's programming will be curtailed in the next year due to lack of available space, but that the department is focusing on maintaining all of its established and long-running programs.
Residents who want to learn more about the status of particular programs can call the Parks & Rec front desk at 503-675-2549, Anderholm says, and the department will post updates to the City's website once the transition begins. The activity guide for this summer is scheduled to be published April 7, and will also include some information about the transition plans.
"Things that are scheduled at Palisades in our current catalog are still going to be there," Anderholm says.