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The entities propose maintaining and scheduling their own fields and indoor facilities after a collaboration that began in 1988.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The city of Lake Oswego and the Lake Oswego School District may soon manage fields independently.

The city of Lake Oswego and the Lake Oswego School District appear to be on the verge of severing the agreement they reached in 1988 that shared the use and maintenance of fields and gymnasiums between the two entities.

During a meeting Tuesday, June 7, the Lake Oswego City Council agreed to allow City Manager Martha Bennett to work with the district to gradually terminate the contract between the two public bodies so that they both maintain, schedule and charge for their own facilities. The Lake Oswego School Board also discussed the matter during a meeting Monday, June 6. Under the current intergovernmental agreement, the city maintains the district's fields in the summertime and schedules the outdoor fields, while the district allows the city to use its indoor gymnasiums for free and to retain fees associated with outdoor field use.

As part of the transition, the City League youth basketball program would be transferred from city to district purview. The agreement is slated to be terminated by the end of 2022.

The two entities had discussed this change for a while, according to the city staff report, but LOSD Superintendent Jennifer Schiele formally established the district's desire to do so in a letter to Bennett in January. Schiele said in the letter that replacing the IGA was considered a high priority for the school board.

"We will continue to work with the city … but we think we are at a great place, and this will be great for all of our students," Schiele said at the June 6 school board meeting.

The phase-out process will start on Oct. 1 for all indoor spaces, and on Jan. 1, 2023, for all outdoor spaces. Schiele also said student use will be prioritized during the split. Individuals under the age of 21 will have priority over adult use. However, adults will still be able to use the school's fields and gymnasiums when they are not in use by students. Meanwhile, the city will prioritize its own programming over that of the district's for its facilities.

At the council meeting, Bennett said the proliferation of turf fields in town has reduced the need for the city to conduct maintenance of district fields. She added that turf fields have made it so sports can be played year round rather than just in the summer.

According to the staff report, the city collects $78,000 per year for rental fees associated with athletic fields, while spending $120,000 a year on maintaining athletic fields. With termination of the agreement, the district will charge the city approximately $46,000 a year for summer camps the city administers in LOSD schools and recreational programming in district gymnasiums. The council may also discuss in the future how it plans to alter fees for the use of city facilities.

"We think it's close to revenue-neutral for the city. However, the one reservation I would say is we haven't done a full calculation of the charges for gymnasium space for adult recreation programs, so those programs may get more expensive than we thought when we wrote the staff report originally," Bennett said.

The city further indicated that nonprofit-run clubs will be impacted by the change. Some of those groups include Lake Oswego Soccer Club, Lake Oswego Youth Lacrosse and Lake Oswego Little League, among others.

"I think the number one place youth sports organizations will be impacted is primarily they will have to approach two entities to reserve their fields. That's going to be the biggest inconvenience," Parks and Recreation Director Ivan Anderholm said at the meeting. He added that some organizations may see a reduced cost of renting out city facilities while others may incur a slight uptick.

The city staff report indicated that the two entities want to maintain similar rates for facility usage so as to avoid competition, but that it will be up to the elected boards to decide that.

Council President John Wendland said at the meeting that he thinks there should be a memorandum of understanding between the city and the district -- and continued coordination. He added that he hoped the council and city would prioritize keeping costs down for users.

"I'm hoping we continue to have a shared philosophy that we're only going to cover costs and aren't trying to make money off our citizens," he said.

Councilor Aaron Rapf added: "I think there needs to be a strong relationship between the city and the school district."

Mia Ryder-Marks contributed to this story.


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