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A May WEB vote looms

Public hearing Wednesday will

An election to decide whether to issue bonds to refinance the West End Building on Kruse Way could be held in May.

The Lake Oswego City Council wants to hear from residents at a public hearing on Wednesday before deciding whether to put a possible $20 million bond measure on the May 20 ballot.

The public hearing will be at 7 p.m. in city hall council chambers, 380 A Ave.

Mayor Judie Hammerstad said 'people are asking us to put this on the ballot as early as possible.'

She said voter turnout should be high because May 20 is the national presidential primary election.

After next week's public hearing, Hammerstad said the council will likely vote on whether to put the matter on the ballot.

The May vote would let residents decide on how to fund the former Safeco Insurance building, which the city has already purchased for $20 million.

In November, residents voted in favor of keeping the building, after a group called Ask Lake Oswegans challenged whether the city can afford it.

The city would ask residents in May whether to issue up to $20 million in general obligation bonds. The cost would be $105 a year per $300,000 assessed value. The bonds would be paid over 20 years or less.

'The bond measure vote is the cleanest way for this city to reaffirm its belief that the purchase of this property was the right thing to do,' said Councilor Donna Jordan. 'We need to reaffirm that it was a good investment for the city, even though it may be 15 years before the city and taxpayers decide what they want to put on that property.'

Hammerstad said she 'has a pretty good idea of what we want to use half of the building for.' She would like to see a 'library presence' at the building, but not a branch. It could house children's books and have library storage facilities, for example. Already the city's Parks and Recreation Department uses the building.

Hammerstad also wants to move the police and 9-1-1 call center to the West End Building, because city hall does not meet today's more stringent earthquake code regulations.

She said she would like to investigate what kind of seismic retrofit is needed to make the West End Building safe enough for police and 9-1-1.

While the city could use half of the 89,000-square-foot building, Hammerstad said the city could lease the other half.

Putting the bond measure before voters was one of the top goals identified in last weekend's city council two-day goal setting session.

Another goal is finding out from residents how they would like to pay for the $100 million lake interceptor sewer project. The city wants to know whether it should be a revenue bond paid for by sewer fees, a general obligation bond paid through a voter-approved bond measure or a combination, said Hammerstad.

'Another top priority is ensuring the city's long-term water supply,' she said. 'This includes a conservation plan and a possible partnership with the city of Tigard to increase our capacity, share the costs, preserve our water rights and provide for a long-term solution of mutual benefit. Any improvements resulting from successful discussions with Tigard would be more than five years away.

Another matter the council must decide on is whether to approve the Lake Grove Village Plan.

The plan, which calls for building a median down Boones Ferry Road through Lake Grove and making the area more pedestrian friendly, has been in the works for five years.

It is scheduled for a public hearing before the council on Tuesday. That meeting will be at 6 p.m. in council chambers of city hall.