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Stop the rhetoric: Play football at Lakeridge

Despite what the neighbors might say, it's time for the Pacers to have home games

It's time.

It's past time, if the truth be told.

But it's definitely time for Lakeridge High School to be allowed to come of age and be a full-service school with full amenities.

Politics prevailed, it would appear, when Lakeridge opened its doors on Sept. 7, 1971. Short on funds, decisions were made to hold Pacer football games at the Lake Oswego School District Stadium at Lake Oswego High School. Efforts over the years to bring football 'home' to Lakeridge have been stymied, often because of the desires of some local homeowners and the efforts of the former leadership of the Palisades Neighborhood Association.

Today, that leadership has changed and the association supports modifying the conditional use permit for Lakeridge that currently prohibits school events such as football games, specifically evening football games.

On Monday evening the Lake Oswego Development Review Commission will meet to discuss proposed changes to the Lakeridge CUP. The proposal is requested by the school board. It's an important meeting and could have serious implications for the school and its ability to be all the things that most every other school in Oregon already is.

Some neighborhood residents worry about the impact that adding a public address system, lights and bleachers will have on them. They raise issues ranging from safety (possible blocked streets) to noise to declining home values to littering. They want to keep the status quo, where for 36-plus years, they've been able to enjoy the benefits of having a school campus near them without some of the potential drawbacks.

But let's not forget something very basic here. Schools are partners in a city, just like everyone else. And just like everyone else they should not be precluded from full participation in what they should be able to offer.

We understand some of the neighbors' concerns. But we have faith in the ability of the neighborhood association, the school district and especially, the Lakeridge family led by Principal Mike Lehman - to work with folks and and mitigate these potential problems.

Right now, the neighborhoods around the district stadium feel the full impact of Friday night football. Throughout the fall, evening games are played by Lakeridge and Lake Oswego high schools and despite the few distractions of cars parking, crowds cheering, the P.A. system calling out plays and the smells of vendor food wafting out over the stadium, life is not dramatically impacted for people around LOHS.

The same would be true if the Pacers were allowed to play football games at home, four, five or six times a fall. It doesn't take much to recognize that this would not only be fair but also represent a tremendous infusion of school spirit and take some of the pressure off another portion of the city.

Residents who worry about property values declining because of football games could not be more wrong. It's Lake Oswego's tremendously successful school system that drives real estate prices. If you make Lakeridge more successful, it's not going to hurt those prices.

One of the key provisions that needs to change is a limit that says the total number of athletic field spectators can't exceed the number of on-site parking places at Lakeridge. The city, school district and neighborhood can work together on this issue so long as cool heads prevail.

Before 1999 there were no lights, bleachers or P.A. system at the Lakeridge. Permission was sought and the city approved limited implementation of facilities to allow some sports to be held at night including, baseball, tennis, soccer and lacrosse.

But the biggie, the sport that generates the biggest crowds and creates the most school spirit - football - has never been allowed.

Lakeridge supporters want to change that.

They are right.

It's time to change.

It's time to get in the game and bring the game to the school.