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City, Lakeridge striving to quell various concerns continue

Monday marked an exciting time for many school athletes - the first day of fall sports practice at Lakeridge High School.

It also marked an observation day of sorts for Lakeridge officials and people living around the school, who have complained about problems tied to speeding, parking, traffic and noise caused by those who use the school fields.

'Already, we had people parking on Cloverleaf,' said Principal Mike Lehman, referring to one stretch of road that's been plagued with those issues.

'In about 45 minutes, we had that problem remedied,' he added. 'They realize we mean it when we say you've got to park up top (in school parking lots).'

School leaders have known of and worked with the city of Lake Oswego to remedy these issues for years, and their efforts might be working in neighbors' favor.

Lehman, district officials and City Manager Doug Schmitz met with a group of neighbors Monday to continue a long-running series of discussions regarding issues related to the existing fields and the approved resurfacing of a practice field.

Conversation focused on how the school plans to communicate - and enforce - traffic and parking rules in order to meet the rules outlined in the conditional use permit set by the city of Lake Oswego. The permit allows the school to have high-traffic fields in a residential neighborhood

A hearing for the permit renewal is scheduled for Sept. 18.

In order to use the field for practice and events, the school must follow city-set conditions as part of permit requirements. Not following city guidelines puts the school's privilege of using the fields at risk of having the permit revoked.

'It's going to be a very important meeting,' Lehman said.

'The future of a lot of our events and ability to provide kids with field access is going to hinge on the outcome of that hearing, so of course we're looking for a favorable decision and one that supports our interests.'

Communication with everyone involved is key, Lehman said. Lakeridge officials plan to send out notices that emphasize the importance of parking in school lots, picking up trash and respecting neighbors.

They also plan to schedule events accordingly, so athletes and parents are able to find adequate parking - legally - in school lots.

'When people are parking … one of their first concerns is convenience, and that's one of the reasons why it's important for us to have a strong message,' Lehman said.

In the past, neighbors have argued that an additional turf field will only serve to increase parking in fire lanes and blocked driveways.

Lehman believes the proposed resurfaced practice field will help space out an already crowded schedule that includes school and community events.

'We want to make sure we're not in a position where we're violating the conditional use permit on the current field, while at the same time putting a new surface on the practice field,' Lehman said.

A number of neighbors voiced a variety of concerns Monday, saying that parking regulations might push people to park on other neighborhood streets and that visiting teams - who aren't familiar with the rules - will not adhere to them.

Officials gauged their interest in having the Cloverleaf fire lane curb painted red as an added precaution to ward off unwanted motorists. Many supported the idea, and offered a few more.

Lakeridge parent Sandi Swin-ford proposed turning adjacent grass lots into extra parking space.

'What would it take to one day make that parking?,' she asked officials. 'Time and money … I know that much.'

'There's plenty of parking. We don't need more parking, we need people to park where they're supposed to,' countered Cindy Lewis, who lives on the corner of Overlook and Ridge Lake drives.

Renee Kennedy, who lives on Marjorie Drive, says the school needs to begin assuming responsibility for community use of the facilities.

'The parking on my street gets so ridiculous, it takes me several tries to get out of my driveway,' she said. 'It's not set up to have that much traffic on the road.'

In the past year, she's seen significant improvement to the situation, mainly by the city, which turned Cloverleaf into a fire lane and added no-parking signs.

'Until the city stepped in, I felt like the school was shafting us,' said Kennedy, who urged administrators to build a two-tier parking structure.

Lately, however, she's begun to notice more support by way of school officials and coaches.