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Mayor and council: Please avoid a Foothills lame duck legacy

Current Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman and his city council are moving forward in setting up an urban renewal district for Foothills when such a proposed development does not map with the wishes of the newly elected mayor and council. Nor has it been reviewed in detail with voters.

This proposed urban renewal district freezes the existing tax base for that area and commits initial investment by the city of around $6.5 million. While the proposal shows that the long-term financial impact could be positive, such an investment is assuredly at the wrong time. The city is currently facing more important issues such as long-delayed road maintenance, water and system upgrades, and the approved Lake Grove district redevelopment.

The newly proposed area, densely populated and containing nine-story structures, would appear from above and below (the river and Foothills Park) as a smaller version of Portland’s South Park blocks. Why would such a beautiful town as Lake Oswego, that has managed its growth comfortably (3.8 percent growth from 2000 to 2010) want to burgeon itself in this far corner of its beautiful terrain? Why would an environmentally conscious town as Lake Oswego want to have such an environmental impact on the Willamette floodplain?

There are situations where moving forward on urban renewal districts (such as Lake View Village) are appropriate. This Foothill district proposal is not such a case. This proposal is in the same vein of “moving forward” that occurred with the West End Building that continues to plague our town.

I’m urging existing Mayor Hoffman and the city council to not approve this district and not saddle your successors and citizenry with such a legacy. There will be an appropriate time and definition for such a Foothills project in the future. Please let the newly elected mayor and council plan it with Lake Oswego’s citizens at the appropriate time.

Again, please, Mayor Hoffman and existing city council, do not approve this urban renewal district.

Les Furnanz is a resident of Lake Oswego.