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City should turn the Rassekh land into foot-traffic only park

I attended an information meeting on May 9 called by the Atherton Heights Home Owners Association regarding the proposed indoor tennis facility under study by the city for three different locations in Lake Oswego. Kim Gilmer, head of city parks and recreation, represented the city.

The three sites being considered are the West End Building, National Guard Armory and Rassekh property located off Stafford Road previously used as the temporary dog park. The Rassekh property is one of the very few remaining natural areas located in Lake Oswego. The meeting served its purpose, as I left with strong feelings that this proposal is not a good idea. I'm frankly surprised the study has gone this far and is moving along to the next step which requires an additional $35,000.

Regarding the Rassekh property, why is the city considering spending money on: (1) Constructing a large cheap commercial type metal building that Atherton Heights and Palisades homeowners will have to look at for a small percentage of the city's population to enjoy; (2) paving part of this natural property for a parking area for club members' vehicles; and (3) creating a traffic hazard with cars turning off a small traffic circle immediately into the proposed site? Projected users number 34 per hour. That's a lot of traffic congestion turning onto and exiting Atherton Drive.

Gilmer stated there is a $500,000 Tennis Reserve Fund. However, the cost of the proposed tennis club will exceed $5 million. From our experience of nearly every city architectural project we've followed, the projected cost numbers are always on the low side and usage and maintenance figures are unrealistic. More debt!

Consideration of the other two sites also raises questions. The status of the West End Building is certainly questionable and the National Guard Armory' property is not owned by the city. Both of these sites have issues that would increase building costs.

My suggestion for the Rassekh property is to develop it as a neighborhood foot-traffic only park. This would alleviate cars, parking and allow the property to be enjoyed by Palisades and Atherton families, as well as others. It would meet the criteria of the city's Master Plan by providing: Children's play area, experience nature and exercise and fitness.

Elizabeth Nickel is a resident of Lake Oswego.