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Sports fields or farming?

Public weighs in on what they want at Luscher Farm
by: CLIFF NEWELL Lake Oswegans crowd around one of the plans on display at the Luscher Farm open house held at the West End Building. The public provided plenty of comments about the farm’s upcoming master plan.

The dots told the story at the Luscher Farm Open House last Thursday.

Those attending were instructed to place dots in the box of the plan they favored the most.

Plan No. 2 finished way out of the running, its box obviously lacking in dots. But Plan 1, with an emphasis on youth sports fields, and Plan 3, which favors farmers and the folks who love them, were by far the top two choices of the people who streamed into the West End Building.

The event was well attended because it was such an excellent opportunity for people to express their say about the new Luscher Farm Master Plan.

Laura Masterson, director of 47th Avenue Farms, sent out emails to her supporters, asking them to show up and be counted for supporting farming at Luscher.

'I hope they continue supporting a variety of options for people having access to fresh, healthy, local produce,' said Masterson, who has been farming at Luscher for the past six years. 'Luscher is an amazing opportunity that other cities don't necessarily have.'

There is total agreement on that statement even from those who have only driven by Luscher Farm and observed Masterson and her associates working on the lush hills of Luscher. An upclose look would reveal community gardens and the chickens so well tended by David Riccardi.

Masterson's friends did their part by showing up to put dots on Plan 3.

'I'm a big golfer. I love our golf course here,' said Darryl Boom. 'But I would like to see the Luscher area kept as natural as possible. It's going to be even more important for food in the future. We need to have our own agriculture instead of trucking in vegetables from Mexico.'

But many of the moms were there to support Plan 1, which calls for the expansion of athletic fields. For Karen Davitte and Stacey Dennett, good friends and mothers of a total of five very active children, more sports fields could not come too soon.

'I want to make sure our children have enough field space,' Davitte said. 'It would be nice to have more turf fields to accommodate our kids, especially when the fields are as wet as they are this spring.'

'I like the community gardens and the activity events,' said Dennett, who 'coaches everything' in youth sports. 'But I want to make sure the new plan will meet the needs of every member of the community.'

'We all want our kids to be active and healthy,' Davitte said. 'But so often we go down to throw the football at Hazelia Field and it's always busy. There are nine or 10 people ahead of us.'

All of these people have worthy goals, and it will be up to Kim Gilmer and her staff at the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department to make the new plan satisfy as many people as possible. The good news is Luscher Farm has added 86 acres over the years.

The purpose will be to balance all the parts involved - agriculture, athletics, history, and dog walkers.

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

The public can continue providing their input on the new plan by going online at www.luscherplan.org .