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Board doesn't plan to sell property in Rosewood neighborhood, but will explore alternative options

PMG FILE PHOTO - After the Development Review Commission voted unanimously earlier this month to deny the school districts application for a new bus barn, the Lake Oswego School Board will take a step back to review alternatives.The Lake Oswego School Board voted unanimously Monday night to not appeal the City Development Review Commission's denial of a conditional use permit needed for a new bus barn site located at 6333 Lakeview Boulevard.

School board member John Wallin said they don't plan to sell the property, but will explore alternative options and sites for the bus barn. Superintendent Michael Musick said that the district will likely use existing warehouses on the Lakeview Boulevard site for storage during summer bond construction.

Wallin also said the board will talk with community members who have long opposed the bus barn moving into the Rosewood neighborhood.

"I do want us to step back. I think we need to take more time, go back to the community and have a more robust conversation. We need to listen more, listen harder," Wallin said at the school board meeting. "If we went through with the appeal we would basically be saying that everything we have done up to this point is exactly right. I think we could do better."

The current bus facility located at 4200 Douglas Way is considered to be inadequate for the district's needs. The school board voted in April 2018 to acquire the Rosewood neighborhood property for $3.25 million to house the district's 52 buses, despite the concerns of neighborhood residents who felt the site was inadequate and that communication had been dismal. Nearly a year later, the sentiment among neighbors has not changed, but the entire project hinged on the DRC's approval of the permit allowing the district to make exterior building alterations, expand the parking lot and a slightly increase the wall height at the site on Lakeview Boulevard.

But the DRC denied the application unanimously April 1, citing concerns over the traffic and road infrastructure in the area being unable to handle the added strain with 52 school buses thrown into the mix.

Throughout the last year, Rosewood neighborhood residents have mobilized against the bus barn moving to their neighborhood, and have made their issues known to the school board — mainly, that they felt a lack of community involvement in the potential bus barn move.

Residents also cited concerns about traffic and safety. After a long battle, the school board finally acknowledged their concerns.

"I think the site met all the standards. I think we made assumptions that the City would do certain things to that neighborhood and that street," Wallin said. "A few weeks ago the DRC came back and said there were issues with that location, and a lot of them spoke to me. The safety and the (needed) road improvements in that neighborhood, they are problematic."

According to Wallin, the district will now work on determining the appropriate path forward. "Are there other options in the community? Are there other ways we could use that facility? Are there better traffic patterns? Could we use more of the industrial area not on Lakeview Boulevard?" he said. "We have a lot of work to do."

Rosewood resident Kelsey Snook, who has been involved with parent resistance to the bus barn move, said that after Monday's meeting, she finally felt heard by the school board. "Sitting through the meeting gave me some perspective with what they must have been grappling with. I am surprised though, because I didn't have a sense that this decision was coming," Snook said. "I think they've recognized that they were hasty. They've acknowledged their missteps."

See related stories:

Lake Oswego School District OKs purchase of new bus barn site

Development Review Commission slams door on bus barn

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