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Dog park will find a flatter spot on farm

Lake Oswego officials say they will find flatter land for a dog park at Luscher Farm, despite previous plans to relocate the current park to a forested section of the farm to make way for a turf field.

Responding to public outcry over land recently dedicated for the dog park's move, city officials said they would look to push the park out of a forested amoeba shape selected on the north side of Luscher Farm in June. Instead, Parks Director Kim Gilmer said designers would look for flatter land at Luscher Farm and aim for flexibility in accommodating dog park users.

'We just know we need to fit a field and we need parking and we need a dog park somewhere,' Gilmer said, adding the city would be willing to look beyond the northwest corner of the farm if design conflicts continue.

The comments followed a workshop with the Lake Oswego City Council Tuesday night, where elected officials heard testimony from dog park supporters on a city plan to relocate the park.

The dog park has, for the last decade, stood on 5.5 acres previously earmarked for athletic fields. The unofficial use of the land by dog walkers has been sanctioned by the city with fencing and other amenities. Plans to finally build a turf field on the land drew the ire of dog park users in June, who were mostly upset at plans to relocate the facility to a forested area to the north.

Though grateful the dog park would be legitimized and retained, representatives of the newly formed Friends of Luscher Farm Dog Park told city officials Tuesday they were concerned about the lack of visibility between dogs owners and dogs on the proposed dog park site. They also cited safety hazards for walkers, which emerged as a key theme.

Pat Nida, who walks with a cane due to knee problems, told city officials in testimony that the dog park enabled handicapped and senior residents to exercise their pets.

'I couldn't have the dog if it weren't for the dog park,' she said later.

A report submitted to the city council included photos of dog park visitors using canes and crutches. The body of the report echoed a recent civic push toward multigenerational activities and urged access for elderly and disabled residents.

'We understand there's a need (for sports fields) and we know you need to fill it and we don't intend to stop or slow down that process,' said Sue Halloran, a member of the Friends of Luscher Farm Dog Park.

Halloran and others urged the city council to keep the dog park accessible for those who need it most - people with physical limitations and new parents with strollers.

Offering successful layouts from other area dog parks, the group requested a square, round or rectangular facility with secure fencing, water, shade, benches, waste disposal bags, perimeter path, bulletin board, maintenance and parking.

The city of Lake Oswego recently extended the contract for design of the Luscher Farm complex to Group Mackenzie, a Portland design firm. Gilmer said the firm was selected for its design flexibility.