Sustainability Advisory Board member Eliot Metzger proposed a hefty challenge last week for the City Council and members of the boards and commissions that help guide the policy-making process in Lake Oswego.
During the annual Boards and Commissions Summit at the Lake Oswego Municipal Golf Course on Feb. 7, Metzger dared the other groups to pick an item on the Sustainability Advisory Board's list of 2019 goals and commit to working together to make it happen.
"If you find something on this list that you can't work with us on," Metzger joked, "we'll buy you a Tesla."
There are no electric-vehicle prizes, of course, but Metzger's point was obvious: All five of the SAB's goals for the coming year include opportunities for the other boards and commissions to become partners in the effort to achieve a more green and sustainable future for the city.
Indeed, collaboration was a common theme at the summit, where leaders of eight advisory boards and the Planning Commission took the floor to discuss the gains they made in 2018 and how they plan to attack their priorities in the coming year.
Library Advisory Board Chair Cliff Perigo talked about his group's desire to expand the Lake Oswego Public Library's presence to reach underserved areas of the city, particularly through the potential use of satellite locations (fixed or mobile) for the distribution of materials. He also touched on growing the library's educational programming opportunities as a way to bring new citizens into the fold.
Perigo said the board hopes to increase and support partnerships with other entities and agencies across the community. In 2019, he said, the goal is to better utilize the Friends of the Lake Oswego Library's connections to seek out public and private partnerships that will enrich the lives of all residents.
Arts Council Executive Director Nicole Nathan talked briefly about the strides made by her group in 2018, including the expansion of the Gallery Without Walls as construction on The Windward wrapped up and provided new, permanent locations for public art in the downtown core.
"The Arts Council served 7,320 people last year, and that number continues to increase through family art making, docent tours and 'lunch and learn' opportunities," Nathan said. "In 2019, we'll continue to work with (the architecture firm) MacKenzie on the new Arts Council space in the soon-to-be-constructed City Hall."
Nathan also talked about partnering with City staff and the Tourism Advisory Board to work on a Gateway Sculpture Project that will help to beautify the north entrance to the city from Highway 43 with new art pieces.
That goal falls in line with the priorities of the Tourism Advisory Board itself, which will also seek to establish a destination marketing organization in the coming year that will create a standalone tourism website for the city, regularly updated to highlight events, local restaurants and businesses, outdoor recreation opportunities and community gatherings.
In addition, TAB member Patti Mertz said, her group hopes to make sure that several local "destination" events receive guaranteed funding each year because of their ability to draw tourists to Lake Oswego. They include the Friends of the Rogerson Clematis Collection's annual Inviting Vines Garden Tour, the Oswego Heritage Council's Classic Car and Collector Boat Show, the Downtown LO Business Committee's Wine Walk and others.
During their time at the microphone, Planning Commission Chair Rob Heape and Vice Chair Bill Ward said that their group's list of goals for 2019 include finalizing recommendations to the City Council for policies related to short-term rentals, an issue the City has been considering for nearly two years.
Also on the Planning Commission's list, Ward said: working closely with the Historic Resources Advisory Board to update the City's codes governing the preservation of historic homes and structures. According to Ward, this effort is intended to achieve consistency with recent changes in state planning requirements, remove obstacles to landmark designation where property owners have consented, and streamline the permit process for minor alterations to landmarks.
HRAB board members Rachel Verdick and Char Green said they're excited to work with the Planning Commission on that effort, as well as continuing the Historic Preservation Grant program that awards $10,000 annually to property owners of historic homes who are looking to complete restoration and renovation projects.
According to Verdick, nearly everyone who applies for a matching grant gets money, so HRAB would like to see more owners of historic properties apply.
"One of our biggest goals this year is to work with Planning on code changes to make it easier for folks with historic homes to be able to restore and renovate. We're also looking to work with other preservation groups in town to get more homes on the landmark designation list, particularly in Lake Grove," Verdick said. "Lake Grove was never included when this was originally done, and there's some really beautiful and historic structures over there, so we're hoping to give them some love."
Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Advisory Board member Scott Bullard told the gathering at City Hall that his group's biggest priorities in 2019 are working with the council and City staff to pass the approximately $22 million parks bond, which has been referred to voters on the May 21 ballot, and to update and prioritize the City's Capital Improvement Projects list.
Identifying natural resource restoration and protection projects is another priority for the board in 2019, Bullard said, with help from organizations like the Oswego Lake Watershed Council and Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation.
Bullard also talked about continuing to build a positive relationship with the Lake Oswego School District regarding common areas of interest, such as programming and facility useage. (Updating the City's intergovernmental agreement with the school district is also one of the City Council's top priorities for 2019.).
Willie Poinsette and Esther Halvorson-Hill briefed the council on the work of the 50+ Advisory Board, highlighted by plans for an event they're putting on to celebrate Lake Oswego's seniors at Mary's Woods' new auditorium. Dubbed "The Event," the May 14 gathering will include speaker presentations, networking and informational booths, all related to the community's aging population.
Poinsette also described a partnership with the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center to distribute information on "aging in place," and a new program designed to match seniors with young Lake Oswegans looking for community service opportunities to create lasting friendships and alleviate loneliness. The program is tentatively being called "Lonely No More," and Poinsette said the 50+ Advisory Board is excited about connecting with other groups to help bring the idea to fruition — one more example, she said, of the need expressed by everyone in the room to work together to improve the lives of all Lake Oswegans.
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