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Swim park story less than satisfactory

An article titled 'Swim park to stay in district's domain' appeared in the Nov. 10 Review.

This article appeared two months after the September School District meeting where the Landmark Designation request for the Lake Grove Swim Park was discussed, and appears to have been reported from the minutes of that meeting.

The title and the article, as well as some of the excerpts in the article from the letter by the district's legal counsel, mischaracterize the intent of the City's Historic Preservation Program, the Landmark Designation List and the ramifications of listing a property on the city's Landmark Designation List. Preservation and stewardship of historic landmarks significantly contribute to the community's fabric and preserves the city's rich cultural heritage for future generations.

A listing on the LDL is an honor reserved for our city's most special historic landmarks. HRAB and the city's Historic Preservation Program offer guidance and technical advice for those seeking assistance in the proper preservation of private and publically owned landmarks.

If designated a landmark, the swim park would never be under the 'domain' of the Historic Resources Advisory Board or the city. It is owned by the school district. It was deeded to the district by the prior owner on behalf of Lake Grove children and their families and is maintained and operated by a separate tax that does not come from general district funds.

HRAB values the long, excellent stewardship of the swim park by the school district and understands the responsibilities the district has with this property. We also appreciate the board members' willingness to consult with HRAB in the future about historic elements of the park.

Listing a property on the city's LDL is done with owner consent, and does not prevent the property owner from managing or making decisions about their property. Having a property listed as a city landmark only adds one more step to the city's regular development review process. This review not only evaluates the historic impact of proposed alterations, but also provides an opportunity for the property owner to receive valuable technical guidance on preserving the structure (or site).

This provides a higher quality outcome that requires less maintenance, often saving the property owner money in the long run. When a site is designated as a landmark, it is not true, as the article states, that 'there is an approval process for all changes, additions or improvements.'

General maintenance (paint, repair, etc.) is exempt, as are changes to the property that do not impinge on the historic elements. In the case of the swim park, changes to the play structure and other non-historic features of a modern park that need to meet modern codes would not be affected.

Listing a property as a city landmark on our LDL helps to protect our most valuable city assets; the historic places that give our community a sense of continuity and uniqueness. Preserving the special historic features of Lake Oswego that we all know and love, like the Lake Grove Swim Park, is important for all of us and for future generations. They provide a 'sense of place' to the Lake Oswego we know and love.

Kasey Holwerda, Lake Oswego, is a member of Lake Oswego's Historic Resources Advisory Board and proud owner of an LDL property.