After years of community members pushing the city to acquire the Yates property adjacent to Hallinan Woods and a prolonged period of negotiation with the property owners, the city of Lake Oswego has finally locked down the property.
During the Aug. 3 City Council meeting, the council approved the purchase of the 2-acre parcel located at 1107 Yates Ave. for $1.65 million.
"Hallinan neighborhood has, itself, grown quite immensely over the years," Mayor Joe Buck told Pamplin Media Group, adding that the acquisition would have the "dual benefit" of "providing that natural space to that growing area of the community (and), of course, also protecting those resources."
Last year, community members gathered during a rally just behind Hallinan Elementary School, encouraging the city to purchase the Yates property adjacent to Hallinan Woods to prevent the removal of more than 20 trees and development of six homes.
Hallinan Woods currently consists of 3.75 acres of public wooded area directly north of Hallinan Elementary, and includes a stream and walking trails. The public space now has been expanded with the purchase of the adjacent 2-acre piece of property located directly north of the main portion of the park.
The private property is separated from the public woods by a chain-link fence along its southern and eastern perimeter, but it is mostly undeveloped and visually indistinguishable from the rest of the wooded area. The neighbors have argued that the public and private sections are one contiguous wooded area and should be treated as such.
The private property was purchased in 2013 for $750,000, with the intention of eventually developing it for housing. The proposed development would have seen the parcel split into six pieces, with six new homes being constructed and an access lane used to connect the subdivision to Yates Street.
Neighbors and residents throughout Lake Oswego have been trying to convince the city for years to purchase this property so the space can remain natural, and the effort ramped up again last year with development plans taking shape.
Following the rally in September 2020, the council directed the former City Attorney David Powell to prepare a resolution of necessity to acquire the property, and to proceed with the steps to acquire the property by eminent domain — the right of the government to take ownership of a private property and convert it to a public use, so long as "just compensation" is awarded to the owner — if necessary.
Last month, the council approved a resolution to exercise eminent domain with respect to acquiring the property. During the July meeting, city attorney Jason Loos said this resolution was the first legal step in moving toward using eminent domain to acquire the property. It basically indicated that "the city needs the property for public use," Loos said during the meeting.
During the Aug. 3 meeting, City Councilor Jackie Manz thanked community members who advocated for the city to acquire the property.
"It was quite a feat," she said.
Buck echoed those sentiments and told Pamplin Media Group he was glad to come to a resolution with the property owner.
The property currently houses an abandoned structure, which is in the process of being removed and will likely be gone by the end of October.
"The land will be added to Hallinan Woods and we will include it in our restoration and invasive removal programs this fall/winter," said Lake Oswego's Parks Director Ivan Anderholm in an email to the Review. "We are in the process of realigning the paved path through the natural area and will now be evaluating a possible alignment through the new property to avoid steep slopes and reduce the impact of the pathway."
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