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Some seniors feel the new community center is too big

In the light of the fact that we are turning into an older population and in the light of the fact that I am an older person, having watched changes in Lake Oswego for six whole decades, I would like to address, among other things, the value of a walk-to library instead of a drive-to library.

In the 1970s we expressed, through our newly formed neighborhood association (FAN), objection to a 32,000-square-foot proposed library (the size of Marylhurst's Shoen Library) because the traffic and parking generated would be disruptive, unsafe and unsightly in the center of our neighborhood. At that time we were asking for either one library in the east end downtown and/or a branch library in downtown Lake Grove to encourage walking, biking and busing.

At the time, it was the older folks who pleaded, whined and sometimes teared up asking the neighborhood association and the city to 'let us keep our library.' I was in my 40s then and didn't understand that point of view. I do now and I believe that as we grow older - it is natural for us to want to downsize our environment. It's like breathing - for every inhale (expansion) there must be an exhale (contraction) - nature's law.

As an older person I want to say that this recreation center structure is too big for me to want to go there. I want to go to our present library because it feels comfortable and safe and because I can walk there and get needed exercise and see people I know from FAN and other close-by neighborhoods.

This big center is for lots of activities, keeping people busy, planned social intercourse and organized recreation - a place for humans doing things. As I grow older, more and more, I want to be a human 'being.' People of our generation have done a lot - family, work, consuming, all sorts of responsibilities, being good neighbors, good citizens.

Now some of us want peace, quiet connection with others and not so many expectations. We want to be comfortable and happy and if nothing is happening that's OK. We don't always want to do what younger people think we should do. For instance, while age intergenerational activities can be a good thing, sometimes, when it is organized, it can be exhausting for all the generations involved and should be carefully considered.

If you ask elders, I think you'll find that we want to be in small, comfortable places. We don't want to walk so far to get from one place to another. Some of us want it to be warm and cozy the way it was when we were children. I'm not saying that the big center isn't a good thing for those of you with the energy to support it but I am saying that it may not be a good thing for those of us who want to slow down and who honestly believe that it is the healthiest thing for us to do.

I have a another lecture about the virtues of decentralization of city services for neighborhoods, and clumps of neighborhoods, which suggests that duplication of services may be a very good idea because it produces quality jobs and brings city services closer to the people who use them. Spending our money on branch libraries and social centers is as worthwhile as our parks and open spaces, our efforts to sustain the health of our air and water, and other worthwhile expenditures that help create this attractive city we are privileged to live in.

Norma E. Heyser is a resident of Lake Oswego.