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Lakeridge field changes on fast track

The city's review process to change the conditional use permit on the Lakeridge High School athletic field may conclude as early as late May- if it's not appealed.

The Lake Oswego School District plans to submit its application for the changes by the end of this month after it receives school board approval.

The district expects the city to accept the application and schedule a Development Review Commission hearing in late April or early May. The public is invited to attend and give input.

The DRC could make a final decision on the CUP changes at the hearing, but it is required to wait until a meeting two weeks later to make it official.

In all, the city has 120 days to issue a final order once the application has been submitted.

Parties on both sides of the issue have 15 days to appeal that decision in front of the city council, which could extend the process into June.

The district administration presented a first draft of its conditional use request as well as some study updates to the school board at a meeting Monday.

The district is requesting modification on four aspects of the current CUP on the Lakeridge field, which is currently used for practices and lacrosse and soccer games.

Its main goal is to give Lakeridge the full use of the field 'comparable to Lake Oswego High School,' where both high schools play their football games.

The district hopes to modify the CUP restrictions as follows:

Allow the total number of athletic field spectators to exceed the number of on-site parking spaces; allow public address announcements; allow field use past 9:30 p.m.; and allow bleachers for spectator seating.

If the DRC opts to modify the restrictions, the district can move forward with plans to make the field more football game-friendly, said Stuart Ketzler, the district's director of finance.

The changes could allow four to six football games to occur on the field each year, impacting less than 2 percent of the nights the field is already used, the application said.

The in-depth application makes a case for the changes, including a summary of developmental changes that have occurred around Lakeridge since the school was opened in 1971.

The application also suggests that if the school were seen as unequal to LOHS in the community, the 'disadvantage' would become a factor that could affect property values on the south side of Oswego Lake.

'Allowing for full use of the athletic facilities at Lakeridge does serve the greater good,' the application states.

The current CUP is 'fundamentally unfair,' the document goes on to say, and its consequence creates 'a persistently pervasive sense of inequality that permeates school spirit, community perception and, ultimately, school reputation.'

During the CUP update, district officials also presented the findings from a Lakeridge parking study conducted by Charbonneau Engineering.

The company counted the number of legal and safe on-street parking spaces located within three-fourths of a mile from Lakeridge. It found that there are an estimated 944 available parking spaces within that distance, making parking 'sufficient' for a varsity football game.

In comparison, a play-off football game at Lake Oswego High School in late November filled about 951 parking spots, the district reported.

The Lakeridge estimation also does not include on-campus parking (362 spaces), potential parking spots at nearby Palisades Elementary School, Luscher Farm or churches near Lakeridge, which may provide additional spectator parking.

The district does not plan to recommend that fans park on the streets around Lakeridge that were surveyed, Superintendent Bill Korach said.

Rather, the study was conducted to demonstrate the availability of parking around the school, but the district could place restrictions on some areas during game nights.

Additionally, the district presented plans for temporary seating on the field, which could include as many as four rented bleachers on the track beside Cloverleaf Road and two rented bleachers on the east end of the field.

Each set of bleachers would seat 300 spectators, making a total of 1,800 additional seats at the field. Lakeridge already has about 1,200 seats available on its permanent bleachers.

Together, the additional seating should offer more than enough room for home and visiting fans - the highest attendance at a Lake Oswego High School play-off game at the district stadium last year was 2,400.

In other school board news:

n The district administration presented its plan to extend the district's contract with First Student (formerly Laidlaw Transportation) for student transportation services. The initial contract is set to expire on June 30, 2008. The district plans to extend its initial contract for five years through June 30, 2013.

n Alan Solares, chairperson of the Special Services Parent Advisory Committee, presented the annual report on behalf of committee members.

Among the main points he covered: The Special Education Parent Fair will be offered every year to meet demand for timely and comprehensive information; the Special Services ListServ is inadequate and the administration should improve the distribution and content of communications provided to parents via the ListServ; the number of full-time teachers is decreasing while the number of students with special needs, including autism, are increasing; the 'Welcome to My World' program - designed to create awareness of what it is like to live and learn with a disability - is succeeding and should be implemented in the junior high schools.

n Froelich Consulting Engineers provided three options for further evaluating the seismic risks at the seven schools identified as 'high risk' by a report issued last summer. The options, which ranged in detail and scope also range in price from $14,000 for all schools to up to $15,000 for each of the five elementary schools and up to $25,000 for each of the two junior high schools.