On Feb. 7, 2007, the Oregon DEQ ordered Lake Oswego to curtail sewage discharges into Oswego Lake. The order is a call to action, not just for our municipal government, but for every member of this community.
The order sets in motion the largest, most complex and most expensive project in our history.
It will interrupt and frustrate our accustomed patterns of living, working and playing in Lake Oswego. We will have to endure construction traffic, noise, unsightly construction equipment on the lake and the draw-down of the lake and canals for an extended period of time.
And, of course, we will have to endure increased utility bills to pay for the work that lies ahead. It is unrealistic to assume that we can accomplish this task without community sacrifice.
Recognizing this simple fact is the first step to finding ways to get the job done ahead of schedule and under budget.
To date, the city has done a good job of managing a open public process to negotiate an agreement with the DEQ, identify project alternatives, select a course of action, work with the Lake Corporation to minimize the draw-down of the lake, establish an oversight and project management structure and developed a public outreach and information program.
The swim park controversy is an unfortunate stumble in an otherwise promising start to this very complex and expensive enterprise.
However, we must not allow the way the swim park issue has been handled to date to divert our attention from the practical task at hand.
This community must craft a decision about lake access that advances the sewer project that is economical and effective without doing harm to the park.
Such a balanced decision must recognize several unavoidable facts:
1. The city's Predesign Report of November 2007 states that the project 'can only be constructed if the contractor has access to/from the lake for equipment, materials, and personnel and has an adequate on-site area from which to operate.'
2. The city needs a staging area to store miles of steel pipe in lengths up to 60 feet and buoyant pipe sections in lengths of 52 feet.
The location needs to receive delivers by large truck/trailer rigs. The park is uniquely located and sized to accommodate the deliveries and storage of these stocks of sewer pipe.
3. The park location was selected after an exhaustive investigation of potential sites around the lake. The costs of using the park are substantially less than the alternative.
Without access through the park, the city will likely need to condemn a lakefront residence, clear the site, relocate the residents, and possibly construct a new residence on the site once the project is complete.
And we will have the bear these substantial costs, as well as the added project costs caused by a year-long delay in the project.
We can accommodate a temporary closure of the park.
Families can cool off next summer at the city swim park on the east end of the lake or on the Willamette River at George Rogers Park. Various lakefront easements could get into the act by inviting friends and families to enjoy their access to the lake.
And we might even want to consider accessing Lakewood Bay from Millennium Park. Rather than viewing the park closer as a catastrophe, we could use this opportunity to connect and strengthen our bonds as a community.
Our next steps are clear. Craft a swim park agreement that is a long-term win-win for all concerned, including our litigious friends who may rather be right than practical.
Increase city activities to keep the community fully informed about the project.
Organize a citizen's advisory committee to facilitate two-way communication as the project progresses.
And get our own heads straight about the difficult challenges that lie ahead. LOIS can be a success if we are prepared to make it so. Success begins within each of us.
Dan Vizzini is a resident of Lake Oswego.