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Lakeridge supporters see permit renewed

The proof was in the parking - or lack thereof.

Lakeridge High School officials, students and parents turned out in blue and gold Monday to help convince the Lake Oswego Development Review Commission that parking near the school's athletic field is finally under control.

One by one, they spoke of frustrations they felt regarding the use of school fields, which have been the source of neighbor complaints. They also sang the praises of school officials who have worked to move school events and discourage illegal parking on Cloverleaf Drive.

'I think you're seeing the commitment tonight from the community,' said parent Gary DeStefano. 'We have a problem everybody wants - we have people participating.'

After nearly three hours of testimony, the commission unanimously agreed to renew the school's conditional use permit on the turf field. Panel members determined that the city-set conditions outlined by the permit had been met during the past eight months.

They also agreed to delegate supervision of city and other community events at the field to an organization chosen by the school.

While a number of individuals have expressed displeasure with traffic and parking at Lakeridge in the past, no one spoke in opposition of the school's permit renewal.

'It seems like you've been successful,' said Bill Tierney, commission chair, as he surveyed the room.

The decision came as good news to Principal Mike Lehman, who has worked to create positive school-neighbor relations by hosting a number of open forums.

'I am very pleased with the strong show of support,' he said. 'Tonight's meeting was a great example of how communities can work together to achieve common goals - we all want our students to have plenty of healthy options, and lighted fields create these safe opportunities for all of our kids.'

As part of the renewal agreement, the school will be required to submit an annual report for the next eight years.

To meet permit conditions, Lakeridge staff focused on communicating and enforcing traffic and parking rules during school events. Athletes and spectators were encouraged to park in school lots, rather than in the neighborhood.

A fire lane was placed on Cloverleaf, while the curb was painted red. The school also erected several 'no parking' signs.

'We're pretty pleased with results,' Korach said. 'There can't be 100 percent compatibility between facility and everyone in the nearby vicinity, but we've gotten pretty close to that.'

Officials had to present a detailed case of their efforts at the hearing. Not following city guidelines puts the school's privilege of using the fields at risk of having the permit revoked.

Parents and students who were present at the hearing wanted to make it clear that Lakeridge has been doing its part to remedy the problem.

For years, members of student Weston Cooper's family parked on Cloverleaf until they were told it was unacceptable.

'People can, and do, change,' Cooper said.

Some questioned why the conditional use was brought into question in the first place.

'It would be a shame to shrink the use of the school's only lighted surface because of issues that have been vastly improved,' said parent Rich Robbins.

While a fence along the field would most likely solve the parking problem, but school officials say they would like to leave the field open for unrestricted access.

'I think we're genuinely trying to be good neighbors in this situation, and I think it's paying off,' Korach said.