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Cleaner water for swim park

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Much community discussion has taken place during the past two weeks about the use of the Lake Grove Swim Park as a staging area for the Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer Project (LOIS). More specifically, dialogue has focused on why the swim park was chosen, why it is proposed to be closed during the summer of 2009 and why five trees are proposed for removal.

First, some background on the interceptor project and its importance. More than six years ago, the city began looking at options for replacement of the interceptor. The over-40-year-old system of pipes that serves three-quarters of the community was undersized, overflowing into the lake in periods of heavy rain and was seismically weak. These overflows violate the Clean Water Act, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality imposed a timeline to replace the interceptor.

As construction planning progressed, it was clear that there are very few sites around the lake that would meet the lake access and staging needs for the project. Developed property rings the lake and access is controlled by the Lake Corporation. The Lake Grove Swim Park is one of six access points around the lake planned for use during the project, but it is the one that will have the most construction-related activity. Some of the project staging needs met by this site include:

Size: A clear area large enough to allow for a large crane, truck deliveries and other equipment.

Accessibility: Many streets around the lake are narrow, local, winding country lanes. A site that is on or near more conventional streets (South Shore, Bryant, Boones Ferry) is more suitable for truck deliveries of pipe and other equipment arriving from the I-5 freeway.

A flat or gently sloping site: Many of the sites around the lake are steep and make access to the water difficult at best.

Adequate off-shore water depth: Barges staged here will be visited by boats carrying crews and equipment. Adequate depth for vessels and construction activity is needed.

Non-residential use: To create a similar site at the west end of the lake would require purchase of private homes on the lakefront that would be demolished. This would entail legal action, unnecessary expense in millions of dollars and hardship to those homeowners.

Discussions began in spring 2007 with the Lake Oswego School District, whose board is also the Lake Grove Swim Park Board, the owners and managers of the swim park. A draft agreement has been reached as of this writing, allowing the city temporary use of a one-half acre portion of the site for construction-related purposes in exchange for complete restoration of the site. This area connects to an additional half-acre easement from the Lake Corporation.

In a major utility project like this, time is money. If the project were to be stopped next summer to accommodate a three-month opening of the swim park, it would create unacceptable costly delays which would be paid for by residents. Additionally, it could unnecessarily risk public health and further violations of the Clean Water Act if overflows were to occur.

In order to accommodate the access points needed at the swim park site, five maple trees are proposed to be removed. The Douglas fir trees will be protected and none will be removed.

We are sorry for the three-month inconvenience during the summer of 2009, but the reward for that inconvenience will result in an improved swim park and a clean water project that is a necessity for this community.

Judie Hammerstad is mayor of Lake Oswego.