City evaluates latest pool, rec center proposal
While a new aquatic and recreation center seems to be the big talk of the City as far as park bond projects are concerned, there are several other projects that need attention.
In the latest step forward after a $30 million parks bond was passed last May, Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Advisory Board Co-Chairs Heidi Schrimsher and Bill Gordon presented a priority list of parks projects — and where additional funding could be sourced — during the City Council meeting March 3.
Top priority projects include the Adult Community Center remodel, park upgrades, athletic fields, and Luscher Farm access and parking.
Of course, the big project, if the Lake Oswego School District and the City decide to move forward with it, is the recreation center and pool.
The cost of that project would be split in half and both the City and school district would pay $15 million each.
But Gordon said the project would actually be closer to $33 million.
Since the recommended site is the Lake Oswego Municipal Golf Course, the golf course is going to need some work to transition it from an 18-hole to an improved 9-hole course with better drainage spaces and a driving range.
"This part of the project can be highly valued as well," Gordon said, adding that he knows the golf community is upset with the proposed site.
After the school district and City hosted open houses and received feedback from various user groups including the dryland and pool communities, the proposed concept development would be at the golf course and would incorporate existing assets like the clubhouse for community events and other activities. The center would include a stretch 25-yard, 12-lane pool, a warm water pool, activity space like a large group exercise room and offices for Parks and Rec staff.
Based on the public input, considerations for a warm water pool are that it would be a 84-86 degree four-lane, 25-yard pool that ranges from 3.5 to 5 feet in depth and has integrated lap lanes.
The competition pool would be 82 degrees and it would accommodate lifeguard and water safety training with a 9-foot-deep portion of the pool. The configuration would also accomodate for a proper water polo course or it could split the pool into two practice courses.
Councilor Theresa Kohlhoff asked if a skinny 50-yard pool would fit on the site and still expressed a desire to have the pool and rec center on the Rassekh property — where new athletic fields are currently proposed.
Parks Director Ivan Anderholm said the site could probably entertain that idea, but did not budge on the current recommendations. He said he would include the analysis of the skinny 50-yard pool in the presentation during the next meeting.
Bennett added that the school district is the entity taking the lead on decisions relating to size.
The rec center and pool would be a full facility with room for add-ons like a gym in the future.
Anderholm said that after talking with OPSIS, the architect group, a more realistic cost escalation — changes in cost or price of services in the economy over a certain period of time — is 4%, rather than 8%, but acknowledged that things are constantly changing.
Mayor Kent Studebaker said he can't get behind spending this much money on a pool, though he doesn't have an issue with the rec center.
"I hope we don't end up regretting it," Studebaker said.
Other councilors expressed concerns about off-site improvement costs at the golf course.
Anderholm said staff is working to identify what traffic issues could occur by having the center at the golf site, and staff will create a traffic impact analysis. Staff will also have a better idea of the estimated cost of off-site improvements by March 16, when the school district and City have their next joint meeting at noon.
The City and school district will also eventually have to hash out a Memorandum of Understanding if they move forward with the partnership. Staff presented considerations including that the City would assume the role of managing partner for the capital project and operations, and there would be a vetting of golf course siting including traffic impact analysis.
"This is a unique opportunity for the City and school district to partner when we both have all these bond monies floating around," Schrimsher said. "We really hope you all will approve the comprehensive rec center and approve it in the optimal locale which we personally think is the golf course."
More on the parks bond priorities
Other projects included on the parks bond are the construction of new fields on the Rassekh property to address the shortage of athletic fields in the community. It's expected to cost about $3.5 million for each of the two proposed fields.
Almost $5 million is allocated to acquisitions and trails — Gordon mentioned the community does highly value connectivity. He said that with the recent passage of Metro's natural areas bond, Lake Oswego will receive about $2 million for projects in that category.
Another example where Metro could help with cost is with improvements to Tryon Cove.
Kohlhoff wondered whether money would be taken from lower priority projects if some efforts end up costing more than what is currently being allocated to them.
City Manager Martha Bennett said that was the plan — except in some specific cases.
"Some of those categories of funds are not interchangeable," said Bennett, referencing Metro's funds, which can only be applied to certain projects.
Bennett added that some monies are flexible, but no one was asking for the council's immediate approval of a certain amount for each project that night.
Luscher Farm update
Luscher Farm is still technically not part of the city. The six Luscher Farm properties, totaling 83 acres, are currently part of unincorporated Clackamas County and zoned for exclusive farm use.
So while the City hosts an array of events and activities at Luscher Farm, and even houses some of its Parks and Recreation staff there, the land itself lies outside of Lake Oswego.
During the March 3 City Council meeting, the council voted to tentatively approve the Luscher Farm Concept Plan for purposes of applying to Metro for an amendment to the Portland Metro Urban Growth Boundary. Because additional testimony was submitted, findings will have to be brought back to the council March 17 before it can be formally adopted.
"The Luscher Area Master Plan envisions some land uses at Luscher Farm that are not currently allowed by county zoning, such as urban agriculture and athletic fields," the staff report read. "By amending the UGB, annexing Luscher Farm to Lake Oswego, and applying the City's Parks and Natural Areas zone to the property, the uses could be permitted."
The Luscher Farm Concept Plan doesn't change zoning or initiate annexation.
But this move would allow for the City to apply its own zoning designation to Luscher Farm, opening up opportunities to use the land in a variety of new ways. Lake Oswego would later vote on annexation if Metro approves the UGB application.
For more information, visit the City's website and view the March 3 agenda.
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