'We didn't get to where we are only by maintaining '


From the perspective of a 49-year resident of Lake Oswego reading the Review, there clearly are divided viewpoints of how our city should proceed into the future. Two well-articulated views stand out. Both sides care for our community and enjoy the benefits of living here.

One view essentially says: “We need to curtail the city’s out-of-control spending and focus on core services. We need to reduce city government interference in our lives.”

The other view says: “We have been actualizing our plans and priorities over time with a great deal of citizen input. We adjust our plans to new information and needs. The proof that we have been fiscally responsible is our AAA credit rating.’

Forty-nine years ago there was one high school and one junior high. Lake Grove with its many unpaved roads and cottage-style homes had just been annexed. There was no Kruse Way or regional business corridor between Boones Ferry Road and I-5. Mountain Park was a rural hill of horse pastures, while West Lake was forested and farmed.

The structures seen in historical 1940s photos still housed businesses along State Street, bookended by Sambo’s restaurant and A&W Root Beer drive-in. The Oswego Swim Park, a popular summer draw, eventually became Bay Roc Apartments. Lakewood Center was an elementary school, with Dee Thomason Motors across the street.

The city hall in the former Elks Lodge on First Street had carpet duct taped to the floor. The fire station was next door. The post office was located in the Country Square on Second Street. Today’s business properties like the Bike Gallery, Chrisman’s, Graham’s, the Review, the current fire station were houses then. The general population of about 9,000 tried to ignore the ash from the Foothills cement plant that fell year-round on the east end.

We have so many contrasts today. More choices of goods and services are available locally. Millennium Plaza Park is a jewel, hosting an incredible farmers market and an ever-expanding array of events. Lake View Village has brought an upscale feel to State and First Streets. Lake Grove now offers a great selection of shops, restaurants and professional services. Our planted medians and public places bring us daily joy. Our citywide outdoor sculpture offering is an incredible asset. Summer concerts in the wonderful settings of West Lake, Millennium and Foothills parks didn’t exist 49 years ago.

Parking structures, hanging flower baskets, upgraded streets and sewers, more sidewalks, bicycle lanes, a second high school, higher quality education, three additional fire stations, senior housing, an adult center, a current population of about 37,000 and much more didn’t exist 49 years ago.

We didn’t get to where we are only by maintaining our assets. We also invested in our future. We seized opportunities for the public and private sector to work together. Our citizens collectively planned for the growth of our population as well as our amenities. We weren’t afraid during hard times to continue the process of planning for a good future. We have continued to invest our tax money well and, as a result, we all love living in Lake Oswego.

From the perspective of a 49-year resident, I believe Lake Oswego is much better now than it has ever been. I sincerely hope we can continue this progressive, responsible, optimistic approach to our future.

Paul Graham, Lake Oswego, is a downtown Lake Oswego businessman, member of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce and member of the Lake Oswego Downtown Business District Association.