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After eight years: We are fortunate

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As I leave office, after eight years, I would like to give my thanks to you, the members of this wonderful community, for all you do to make - and to keep - Lake Oswego great. Whether you volunteer, participate in community activities, belong to your neighborhood association or civic organizations, or just enjoy life in this remarkable city, my sincere thanks to you! My special thanks go to the city councilors who have served with me. We are lucky to have such outstanding volunteers who are willing to give of their time and talent.

We all have a choice of where to live, and for all of you who have chosen Lake Oswego you have also chosen a way of life that includes excellent schools, personal safety, reliable city services, a clean, sustainable environment, shops and services, places to walk, bike and recreate, and accessible arts and culture. We, together, have built a city that provides for these choices. We are very fortunate.

As I look back on my eight years as your mayor, I realize just how fortunate.

Our downtown has been rebuilt beautifully. We have a real community 'center' in Millenium Plaza Park with the Farmers' Market and year-round events that bring us together in many ways. The Headlee Walkway provides a beautiful pathway and visual access to the lake - something that we needed to create to bring our name to life.

Your participation in the arts has made a major difference in our quality of life. The 'Gallery Without Walls' has been a huge success with more sculptors wanting to participate every year. The continued support of Festival of the Arts, Lakewood Center and the wide variety of music, theatre, and arts programs means that we can enjoy all of these offerings right in our own community.

Your love of our library has consistently made our library No. 1 in the state. Our 'Lake Oswego Reads' program is the best anywhere! As we all read the same book, we not only have a common bond but many wonderful shared activities. On your next trip to the library you must check out the whimsical art in the children's library made from your donated recyclables.

Your generosity in supporting bond measures meant that we could acquire significant open spaces and parks. These included the Tryon Creek Cove, Foothills Park, acquisitions in Stafford, Iron Mountain Park and our latest addition, Hazelia Field, which has the largest artificial turf field in Oregon as well as two wonderful dog parks! In addition to the improvements at George Rogers Park, we will honor our past by restoring the iron furnace in time for our Centennial in 2010.

We have much to do in the coming years, but we have such a good start. We have been blessed with outstanding leadership from our prior City Manager, Doug Schmitz and with our new City Manager, Alex McIntyre. I know that the next council, with your support, will work hard to complete the sewer interceptor project, the improvements to our water system, the livability of our neighborhoods and our many environmental aspirations. I also hope that with your help, we can adopt a financing plan for the West End Building that will provide for the needs of our city and our future.

And, speaking of the future, let's all work together to bring the streetcar from Portland to Lake Oswego. We need to commit ourselves to 'Connect Lake Oswego.' The streetcar will stimulate the redevelopment of the Foothills area, provide needed housing and amenities and most of all, will provide clean and efficient transportation. Let's do it!

As we enter the new year, I send my best wishes to our council, to our advisory committees, our neighborhood groups, our civic organizations and to all of you who have been so helpful to me, the council and the community. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve you for these past eight years.

Judie Hammerstad is the mayor of Lake Oswego.