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Weigh in at centers open house

and Sandy Leybold

Six months ago, Lake Oswego citizens told us what they thought of our first stab at a multi-generational community center. We listened carefully and spent the winter reshaping our priorities for the project, while staying mindful of taxpayer dollars. On Wednesday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m., the Community Center Steering Committee will unveil a revised proposal that takes into account the three most important issues raised last fall: 1) potential closing of the existing downtown library; 2) potential moving of the adult community center from its current site; and 3) the overall size and cost of the project.

We are eager to share our current thinking about programs and facilities, and our preliminary design concepts. But more importantly, we need to hear what you think. We urge you to attend the public open house on March 7 and to weigh in on three important topics:

The library issue is particularly complex.

While the committee's research led us to recommend a single library at the West End site (formerly Safeco), we realize, based on public feedback, that more work is needed to resolve how library services should be provided in Lake Oswego. The committee recommended that city council further study various library service options, while we ensure that our master site plan for the community center is flexible enough to accommodate any future decision about a library.

Retain senior services at the existing Adult Community Center.

The committee recognizes 50+ residents have a wide variety of needs and interests. Many desire an active, multi-generational environment where recreation, education, and community gathering spaces are emphasized. Others have need for social services to maintain health and independence.

The committee is now recommending retaining these supportive services at the existing center, while offering expanded recreational and educational programs for adults over 50 at the community center.

Reduce the size and cost of the community center program.

The project estimate for the current program is $55 to $60 million (in 2010 dollars). This does not include a library or property acquisition costs. The committee has achieved reductions by eliminating specialized rooms, cutting other spaces, and reusing the existing building to the fullest extent possible. We intend center operations to be financially self-sufficient, covering costs through user fees generated from classes, rentals and memberships. Capital funding is expected to come from a variety of sources including private/public partnerships, donations and sponsorships, other city resources and a voter-approved bond measure.

Project architects have developed preliminary designs for the community center building and site. We are excited about the functionality and the attractiveness of what they have presented, and want to hear your comments and suggestions about the 'look and feel' of the center as it is emerging.

The community center proposal is a 'big vision,' and it represents a significant investment for our city. The concept has naturally attracted both proponents and opponents. We hope that dialogue will continue.

Our vision is to create a place that will bring together all generations of Lake Oswegans in a center that enhances our vital sense of community. Our goal is to provide the city council and the citizens of Lake Oswego a proposed plan that is (1) well thought out, (2) the result of significant public input, and (3) flexible in light of budgets, programs and community needs.

We urge you to join us at the public open house next Wednesday, March 7, at 6:30 p.m. at the West End Building. Please come and see what we've planned so far, and contribute your vision to a multi-generational community center for Lake Oswego.

Dennis Elliott is chair and Sandy Leybold is vice chair of the Lake Oswego Community Center Steering Committee.