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Redevelopment envisioned in Lake Grove Center Plan

by: Courtesy of City of Lake Oswego, 
Illustration shows a more pedestrian-friendly Lake Grove with trees and wider sidewalks.

The new Lake Grove Village Center Plan should spur redevelopment through the commercial core of Lake Grove, according to city planners.

The plan, passed by the Lake Oswego Planning Commission last month, seeks to transform Boones Ferry Road into an arterial that 'promotes a safe, welcoming and convenient environment for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles,' according to the plan's goals.

The city council will host a public hearing on the village center plan at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 at city hall. If the council passes the plan, it would then go through a traffic and economic impact study process, followed by engineering studies.

Sid Smither, owner of Lake Music Center and Teaching Studio on Boones Ferry, said the plan will make Lake Grove safer for pedestrians and drivers and most likely improve property values.

'The problem now is safety,' said Smither, whose shop is just off Boones Ferry. 'I hear crashes outside my wall, (involving) people waiting to turn left.'

The accidents are caused by drivers attempting to turn left off Boones Ferry into business parking lots. The new plan addresses that danger by calling for a median along Boones Ferry. The median would have several points where drivers could make U-turns to reach businesses on the other side of the median.

The city would also add two or more traffic lights as well as pushbutton crosswalks, wider sidewalks and bike lanes.

The traffic signals, as proposed, would be at the intersections of Boones Ferry and Lanewood, on Boones Ferry between Reese and Bryant and Boones Ferry between Bryant and Madrona.

The plan has its detractors.

'Just because it's what some people want, should the tyranny of those who want to change it be held in higher regards than those who don't?' said Nathan Spaccarelli, who owns Cafe Marzocca Italian Espresso Bar in Lake Grove. 'What are we fixing and is it worth the fix?'

But Smither, who has had his music store on Boones Ferry since 1970, said the plan is a move in the right direction.

'Lake Grove has been a stepchild of Lake Oswego for a long time now,' he said. 'Now we have a chance to improve ourselves.'

The city may address the need for more parking by purchasing property, according to Dan Vinzini, former chair of the planning commission. 'It makes sense for the city to look at acquiring property for parking,' Vinzini said. 'If some property opens up, we should probably look at acquiring it.'

The plan also envisions improvements off of Boones Ferry. Hallmark Drive, between Douglas Way and Mercantile Drive, would become a street without curbs that could be used for festivals, markets and other community events. The plan calls it Hallmark Festival Street.

'It could easily be closed down, to be crossed by people and could host different kinds of community events,' said Vinzini.

Other goals of the plan include encouraging a mix of uses within the village center and 'strenghtening the Lake Grove sense of place and community.'

The plan proposes allowing developers additional lot coverage if they provide housing on the top two floors. In addition, city officials would like to see the creation of community gather places that would form a 'string of pearls' in the village for social and cultural events.

Overall, the plan should make Lake Grove more pedestrian friendly and improve traffic flow, according to Dennis Egner, long range planner for the city.

Spaccarelli said he thinks the plan could displace locally owned businesses and he questioned the need for additional parking lots.

As a member of the Lake Grove Commercial Association and a business owner Spaccarelli is concerned that corporate-owned businesses will replace locally owned ones.

'The question is, how much do you want to retain of the individual aspects of this area?' he said.

Smither said he has heard many complaints about the possible effect the median would have on drivers' ability to make left turns into businesses.

But he said the current village plan is the best plan going.

'No one has come up with a better alternative,' he said.