Ribbon-cutting ceremony marks completion of seven-year effort

It was a long time coming, but the Pilkington pathway is now offering safety to cyclists, runners, pedestrians, dog walkers, school children and also elderly people in power wheelchairs.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 12 marked the successful completion of seven years of lobbying and many hours of work by volunteers, parents and students. The day featured Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman, former city councilor John Turchi and children and parents from River Grove Elementary School.

Peter Klaebe, chairman of the Rosewood Neighborhood Association, told the crowd, “It would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of staff and elected officials at Clackamas County, the city of Lake Oswego and the Lake Oswego School District. We all appreciate your hard work to make this happen.”

Plans began in 2005 when the Rosewood Neighborhood Association formed a planning committee and created a petition drive that collected 411 signatures. The petition asked the county and city to build a pathway on the west side of Pilkington, from Jean Road to the school crossing at Dawn Street, plus another leg of path from Pilkington to River Grove Elementary.

“It was a no-brainer,” said Klaebe, of creating a new pathway. “The road was unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. I run along the roads in the neighborhood and could never run along Pilkington.”

Two incidents showed exactly how unsafe the area was. Ten years ago, a River Grove Elementary School student was hit by a car while walking to school. In 2010, a Lakeridge freshman was hit by a car while crossing the road early one morning to get to the school bus stop at Kenny Street and Pilkington Road.

Support for the pathway was strong. Rosewood’s most active members were Klaebe, Joan Batten, Kenn Nickell, Lisa Volpel and Rick Jones. The group was able to enlist elected officials, including Turchi and Lynn Peterson of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. Also making contributions were city staffers Sarah Selden, Laura Weigel, Erica Rooney and engineer Matt Tipton, school principals Dan Sterling and Nancy Verstegen, plus the River Grove PTA.

Still, obtaining the money to actually finance the project was a problem.

“As one city employee told me, ‘No one at the state will want to give money to Lake Oswego when it can be given to less affluent districts,’” Klaebe said. However, Turchi helped the committee achieve a breakthrough by pushing the city to fund a feasibility study in 2008.

“We at least had a document that could be used to build a viable case to construct the pathway,” Klaebe said.

In fact, the case ultimately proved to be so viable that in 2009 the Oregon Department of Transportation awarded $500,000 — the maximum possible grant amount under the Safe Routes to Schools program. It was the first SRTS grant ever awarded to Clackamas County.

The Pilkington pathway now provides a 5-foot-wide strip of asphalt separated from the road so children can walk and bicycle for about three-fourths of a mile, which Klaebe calls “a huge improvement.” There are marked pedestrian crossings at each intersection, all the way to River Grove School, including along the extension on McEwan.

A plaque stands on pathway, acknowledging the people who made it possible. It did not take long to see the value of the pathway.

“As I was leaving the ceremony I saw a mother and her two young kids, maybe second-graders, come out of their house on Pilkington, cross the road and start to walk to school,” Klaebe said.

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