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We hope activists on both sides can learn to work together in plotting a course for the future of our beautiful parks.

Publisher's note: Mistakes happen. Unfortunately, when we make a mistake, it not something that we can easily hide, or that we should.

As your local newspaper, we strive to be fair and balanced in everything we do. So, when we make a mistake, especially one on a political ad, it is important that we acknowledge the error even though many of our readers may have not even been aware.

This was our situation last week, when due to the complexities of how we print the Review newspaper, we mistakenly ran the West Linn Tidings page A7 in the Lake Oswego Review.

The correct page should have been published with a half page ad from the Lake Oswego citizen's group LoveLOParks. Because their ad was about the current Lake Oswego Measure 3-568, most people would understand their frustration that such a mistake would have happened. At the time, we did our best to correct this issue by resending out almost 4,000 copies of the digital Lake Oswego Review to all our digital subscribers last Thursday.

This week we had planned to offer our endorsement in the debate over the two park measures, but due to this mistake we will instead share the details of this measure and allow our readers to decide:

It is telling, and encouraging, that Lake Oswego residents have spent the past several months debating how best to protect the city's beloved parks and natural areas.

This underscores a central truth: that long before climate change roared into our collective consciousness, environmental preservation has been a core value for a city that boasts more than 600 acres of parks and natural spaces.

Yet the recent debate over how this should be accomplished at city properties has been fierce and, more than anything, confusing. For what some believe to be the first time in Lake Oswego's history, voters on Nov. 2 will consider competing ballot measures — 3-568 and 3-575 — on the same topic of natural area preservation. Whichever measure garners more "yes" votes will be put in place, affecting a slew of changes to the city charter in the process.

The backstory: In 2019 a group of residents led by Scott Handley pushed back against a communications tower at Cooks Butte Park that was proposed by the city of Lake Oswego and the Clackamas 800 Radio Group to improve emergency services in a sector of the city. Ultimately the city and C800 opted to move away from Cooks Butte as a potential site for the tower, but some concerned residents felt their work wasn't done and began working on what became Measure 3-568.

By July of this year, the group of residents — organized under the name LoveLOParks — had garnered 4,433 signatures (more than the 4,300 needed to qualify) on an initiative petition to place the measure on the ballot. Expressing concerns about the limitations of the measure and claiming that LoveLOParks had not cooperated with city representatives and volunteers who proposed alterations to the measure, the City Council responded by placing its own initiative on the ballot.

Both measures would repeal and replace the original chapter 10 of the city charter, which was created in 1978 to preserve Springbrook Park (it could also apply to other areas, but only with voter approval). Specifically, the charter language stated that an athletic facility, parking lot, road or trail for motorized vehicles could not be developed at Springbrook or any other parks covered by that chapter.

With either of the ballot measures in place, the new charter would be more expansive in naming parks and natural areas such as Bryant Woods Park, Canal Acres, Cooks Butte, Glenmorrie Greenway, Cornell Natural Area, Hallinan Woods, Iron Mountain Park, Kerr Open Space, Lamont Springs Natural Area, River Run, Southshore Natural Area, Springbrook Park, Stevens Meadows, Waluga Park-West and Woodmont Nature Park.

Both ballot measures also place new development restrictions on these areas. The city's measure prohibits "construction of new athletic facilities, commercial logging, construction of new public streets and roads, and construction of new telecommunication facilities." The LoveLOParks measure, meanwhile, bars "any athletic facility, any telecommunications facility, or any parking lot, road, or trail for motorized vehicles within a nature preserve" as well as the cutting of any tree for these purposes. Further, the LoveLOParks measure states that the city can't construct "any facility or any structure above ground that would impair or be inconsistent with the natural conditions of a nature preserve."

Crucially, the LoveLOParks measure also states that projects outside of these limitations would need to be approved by voters in a May or November election.

Beyond the 4,433 residents who signed the petition, the LoveLOParks measure is supported by the environmental groups Oregon Wild and Sierra Club. The Lake Oswego Sustainability Network, as well as most park "friends" groups and many longtime volunteers, have rallied around the city's measure.

Ultimately, this is a matter of trust and process. It is laudable that many residents care so deeply about maintaining the city's natural environment, even if they disagree about the best way to do so. LoveLOParks advocates have expressed a sense of distrust toward the city — based, they say, on betrayals both recent and historic — and they believe more power should be vested in the voters when it comes to future park projects. The city and its allies counter that LoveLOParks' more restrictive language — and the requirement of voter approval for certain projects to move forward — would waste time and money while potentially halting needed improvements in accessibility, wildfire prevention and other areas.

Each side has accused the other of refusing to collaborate, and it is disappointing that an area of common interest in Lake Oswego has become so divisive. However this vote plays out, we hope activists on both sides can learn to work together in plotting a course for the future of our beautiful parks.

Lake Oswego needs all of its residents to support natural preservation. That much we can all agree on.

— Review Editorial Board


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