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City to make case for expanding urban growth boundary

Site eyed for new tennis center


by: VERN UYETAKE - Known as the Rassekh property, this nearly 10-acre site in the Stafford area could come into the urban growth boundary soon. The city of Lake Oswego has requested the expansion in hopes of building a new indoor tennis facility there.Lake Oswego will make its case for expanding the urban growth boundary to Metro next week.

Moving the line that limits urban sprawl is necessary for the city to build a new tennis center on what is known as the Rassekh property, an almost 10-acre site across Stafford Road from Luscher Farm.

A hearing on Lake Oswego’s petition for a UGB expansion is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at city hall, 380 A Ave.

The Rassekh property is unusual in that it used to be inside of the urban growth boundary. In 2006, the city requested a “UGB trade” to push it back outside of the growth boundary and, in exchange, to bring 14 acres inside of the UGB. The reason, according to a Metro staff report, was “to build a recreational facility that was better suited on the larger site due to environmental impacts on the subject (Rassekh) parcel.”

The land brought inside of the UGB in 2006 now consists of Hazelia Field at Luscher Farm, including the dog park, sports fields, natural and wildlife viewing areas, a playground, restrooms, trails and paths.by: FILE GRAPHIC - This map shows the Rassekh property, which Lake Oswego has proposed bringing inside of the urban growth boundary so it can build a new tennis center there. The turquoise line shows where the urban growth boundary now runs, the red line shows the city boundary and the green line outlines city-owned parks properties in the Stafford area.

To bring the Rassekh property back in, Lake Oswego will have to prove its need for a new tennis facility can’t be reasonably met on land already inside of the urban growth boundary, and that the city can’t wait on the project until 2015, Metro’s next scheduled analysis of whether to expand the urban growth boundary.

In the city’s petition, officials argued Lake Oswego has a “relatively unique window of opportunity to proceed with construction of the new indoor tennis center in the near term because of favorable interest rates and (a) competitive bidding environment for construction projects.”

Officials plan to fund the new eight-court indoor tennis facility with revenue bonds backed by tennis center fees and reserves and the eventual sale of the existing tennis center property. The new courts would replace the old, heavily used Diane Drive building, which can’t be expanded in its current location.

Over the past three years, the city has paid for studies analyzing the potential market for a new tennis center and the feasibility of building one. Consultants found the tennis market would be strong even if similar facilities were constructed nearby; they included existing competitors as well as planned but not-yet-built tennis courts in their calculations of demand.

They analyzed six possible locations, including five within the urban growth boundary, but ultimately focused on two properties already owned by the city — the West End Building and the Rassekh property — along with the National Guard Armory. The city council identified the Rassekh property as the preferred spot after another study found it had a lower cost of development and a bigger usable area than the alternatives, according to the city.

In addition, officials said the project will protect and preserve natural resources on the Rassekh property and integrate them into the new tennis center’s design. The center would also still have to go through the city’s usual permitting processes.

The regional government’s staff has recommended approval of the city’s request. At next week’s meeting, a hearings officer will issue a recommendation for the Metro Council to consider.