Task force hones in on potential locations for pickleball courts in Lake Oswego
Those looking for a clear and speedy solution to the city of Lake Oswego's pickleball predicament may be disappointed.
During the Pickleball Site Suitability Study Task Force meeting Thursday, Sept. 8, the group, which includes city staffers as well as local residents, considered 13 options for pickleball courts in Lake Oswego — many of which were deemed inauspicious and only a few seemed promising to task force members.
"We don't have a lot of options here, the way I see it," task force member Ed Becker said at the meeting.
The city began the process of looking for a new pickleball site after residents who live near George Rogers Park — where the current courts reside — informed the city that the noise from the paddles smacking the balls throughout the day had a significant impact on their quality of life and health. Lake Oswego City Council subsequently voted to find a new location for the courts.
Prior to the task force meeting, the city surveyed residents to find sites that met basic criteria — including that they be located within city limits and no closer than 150 feet from homes.
The sites that seemed most promising to task force members included the Yakama Products property on Kruse Way, spots on the north and south end of the former Marylhurst University campus and the Hazelia Dog Park near Luscher Farm.
However, the city has yet to ask the property owners of the first three sites (Sisters of the Holy Names in the case of the two at the former Marylhurst campus) if they would be interested in allowing pickleball there. As for Hazelia, project manager Kyra Haggart explained that the city would need to get clearance from Clackamas County to move the dog park to Luscher Farm (which is zoned for exclusive farm use) so that it could put the courts at the current spot. The city also would need to obtain a conditional use permit. She said parking could be an issue and that the city would build more of it if Hazelia was selected as the site. Haggart added that putting the courts on Luscher Farm would not be allowed.
The only other city-owned property the task force considered was Westlake Park, where the current athletic facilities could be replaced by pickleball courts. The task force nixed this idea from the list. Problems with this site included proximity to local neighbors and the need to replace existing recreational amenities.
As for Lake Oswego School District property, all three potential sites were deemed unlikely to work out — Lake Grove Elementary School because the district would need to conduct a long-term planning effort and public process first, which could take years, Lakeridge High School because of potential pushback from neighbors as well as parking and access challenges, and Lake Oswego Middle School because the district already has plans for the space.
"There are many options on the list that are probably much more suitable (than district property)," said Tony Vandenberg, a task force member and the district's executive director of project management.
Other sites considered included a property owned by Christian City Church near the future Rassekh Park, the Lake Oswego Hunt's facility on Iron Mountain Boulevard, the Tryon Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant owned by the city of Portland, industrial lots at Rosewood Street and Pilkington Road, and the River West Church parking lot. Current property owners would have to sign off on development at any of these facilities and, in many cases, access points and parking would need to be built.
"Before we develop anything, we will do a sound study to determine what the impacts might be and identify what mitigation measures would be required to make that site appropriate," Haggart said.
The project manager said the Rosewood/Pilkington location could be desirable due to its proximity to Mt. West Retirement-Lake Oswego and because this area is underserved in terms of recreational amenities.
"It could be a cool amenity for folks living in the retirement community," Haggart said.
According to Haggart, many of the options sit along Stafford Road because of the relative preponderance of vacant land along that thoroughfare.
Also during the meeting, the city unveiled the results of a recent survey conducted to gauge community preferences for a new pickleball facility.
Some findings included:
• nearly half of players play between 9 a.m. and noon • regular players graded pickleball's positive impact to their health a 4.2 out of 5 • the majority of players drive or ride with a friend to courts • nearly 40% said they would drive more than 5 miles to play • 25% live outside Lake Oswego • most respondents were between 55 and 74 years old and white • over half preferred converting or retrofitting an existing facility to developing courts at a new facility • nearly 30% play at least four times a week The survey elicited 588 responses, which Haggard said was abnormally large. The task force will use the survey results to inform its decision on which properties to pursue.
At the next meeting in October, the task force will agree upon three potential sites to study further. They will then agree to a recommendation to provide to the City Council in November.
For more information on the project, visit www.ci.oswego.or.us/parksrec/pickleball-site-suitability-study.
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