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Keep community center talk positive

The citizens of Lake Oswego have a great opportunity and challenge in the development of the proposed community center. One of the challenges is to respect the process. Could we not return to the positive community feeling generated by the 50+ Dialogues?

Communities like Lake Oswego have tremendous strengths and capacity to solve issues and to identify opportunities for positive transformation.

My vision for the Lake Oswego Community Center was reinforced on a recent visit to Alamo, Calif., when I had an opportunity to visit and tour the community center in Orinda, Calif. which is a community of approximately 17,000 people in close proximity to Berkeley.

The Orinda community center is a converted school building purchased by the community in the 70s through private donations and fund raising at a cost of $500,000 dollars. The community center is administered by the parks and recreation department, which receives no public funds and subsists on rentals, fees and private donations.

The library is at one end of the building with a café/coffee shop downstairs and a room for the Friends of the Library located at the front entrance. The library is supported by 50 percent public funds and 50 percent donations and fees.

The community center has no distinctive space for seniors or teens but rather has intergenerational programs that are seamless. The 50+ dialogues made it abundantly clear that the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center has neither the times, space or programs available that would attract the younger, older adults. Evening and weekend activities are available.

The administration of the Orinda Community Center has a number of committees: Orinda Senior Club; Orinda Senior Services Committee; Teen Advisory Committee and Orinda Association Volunteer Center, Teen Volunteer program.

The center has a number of facilities available for rent or lease; banquet room, parties, fundraisers, meetings and musical performances. Facilities accommodate 1 to 240 people and include a variety of meeting rooms, auditoriums and a theater with state of the art light and sound systems, theater seating, kitchen and outdoor amphitheater.

A sports park with playground equipment is alongside the center. The park was developed and maintained by private donations.

The programs listed below are very intergenerational starting at 18 months to ? The programs are inclusive of parent/guardian child activities, teen activities. One of the goals of the 50+ dialogues was to determine how the 'baby boomer' generation could volunteer and remain involved in their community. The Lake Oswego library and the adult center have many of these same type of programs but are once again limited by space, times and staff.

Activities offered: Partners in Creativity: Cooking; fitness for every generation; woodworking, engineering for children, parent child workshops; carpentry classes for boys and girls; weekend woodworkers; parent /child workshops; Orinda Ovations Musical Theater; foreign languages; gymnastics, music classes; art; bridge; dog obedience; literature and film; nature; financial planning, dancing, Caribbean steel drums; ballroom dancing and improv/comic class for teens.

Lake Oswego has many of these programs in leased or borrowed space all over the city. It would be much more efficient and cost effective to have all the offerings in one location with a regional draw from the metropolitan area. The Orinda center has a great many activities that are family and preschool directed. These activities would be used in Lake Oswego because there is not a fitness center that includes the whole family.

Lastly, I would like to see the park-like setting remain in tact at the center. During the summer and holidays, it is apparent that multi-generational families migrate to the parks and coffee shops. During the summer, the 'geyser fountain' is extremely popular for the kids, parents and grandparents. Many grandparents and mothers take the children to Waluga park for the playground and to picnic. What a 'gathering place' the community center could be for future generations.

Robert M. Lawrence is a resident of Lake Oswego.