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Luscher Farm is looking forward

Open house on April 21 will generate comments from local residents
by: VERN UYETAKE Luscher Farm has many blessings for the people of Lake Oswego. Above, youth league lacrosse player Colin Hennessy goes into action in a contest last Thursday. Below, the rolling fields of the farm provide fertile soil for farming and community gardens.

Kim Gilmer and Ryan Stee anticipate lots of help from the public in making the new Luscher Farm Master Plan.

An open house to gather community input will be held April 21 at the West End Building from 4 to 7 p.m.

'There were 84 who came on Jan. 22 to see our design charette after it was just completed,' said Stee, project manager with the city of Lake Oswego. 'And that was on a Saturday.'

Such vital interest in the future of Luscher Farm is very understandable. Since the land was purchased by the city in 1991, the farm has developed into a jewel - a place of farming, community gardens, a dog park, athletic fields, the Clematis Collection and walking trails.

All of it on a sloping pastoral setting that people can enjoy just by driving by. Luscher Farm is wonderful, a premier reason why many consider Lake Oswego a great place to live. But changes must be made for the future.

'Since the city bought Luscher Farm in 1991 it has added much more land,' said Gilmer, director of the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department. 'The thing about the 1997 master plan is that it's old. There are now 86 more acres, so we really need to come back to the table and make a new plan.

'We are not just throwing out the old plan. We'll have the agricultural piece, the historic piece and athletic piece and all that extra property.'

There are some exciting possibilities, especially involving recreation, but any of them will be integrated into Luscher's main theme of rural beauty.

'Our city driving range is antiquated,' Gilmer said. 'That's one possibility for the new plan.'

However, any new driving range would not have large, unsightly nets or golf balls bouncing among all of Luscher's contented chickens.

Gilmer said. 'I don't foresee dramatic changes because what we're doing at Luscher Farm has been so popular. What we'll be doing is enhancing what we have.'

The open house is considered vital because public input is so avidly sought.

'From all of the information gathered we'll get down to what the community has been telling us all along,' Stee said.

'We now have plenty of acreage to accommodate the community's interest while retaining that open, spacious feel,' Gilmer said. 'We want to come back to the people and ask them, 'What is your vision?''

Of course, implementing this new vision will take fundraising, and that is the main reason why a new master plan is necessary.

'There is a lot of grant money available for projects like this,' Gilmer said. 'But without a confirmed plan we can't even apply for these funds. The new plan will set the stage for what we can do.'

Three site plan alternatives have been established, and they will be viewed by the public at the open house.

A final site plan is expected to be approved by the city council in July, and then a written document will be ready in September.

For more about Luscher Farm, go to luscherfarm.org.