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Changes, challenges are in Lake Oswegos future

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Lake Oswego faces big changes as several long-running projects reach the finish line and a few key challenges roll ahead.

That's the gist of Mayor Judie Hammerstad's state of the city address to the Lake Oswego Women's Coalition April 18. Held at the Oswego Lake Country Club, the luncheon drew about 90 people.

In the talk, Hammerstad highlighted a long list of city accomplishments and pointed to some significant hurdles ahead.

'We've hit the finish line on a lot of projects and that's very satisfying,' she said. 'But what about those that are just rounding the bend or those where the track is long and its muddy? We have those too.'

In accomplishments, Hammerstad noted the city's recent AAA bond rating, construction of Foothills Park, a plan for public docks on the Willamette River and a property purchase that closes part of a gap in a pathway from Tryon Creek to West Linn.

She said the city also completed a first round of renovations in George Rogers Park last year and worked to keep the much-used community garden and dog park a part of Luscher Farm.

The Lake Oswego Library continues to be top in the state and the city still boasts a great parks and recreation program and a no-call-too-small model of community policing, Hammerstad said.

She pointed to the 50-Plus Community Dialogue, the arts foundation, neighborhood planning, infill standards and the Lake Grove Village Center as ongoing efforts that continue to make slow progress.

Hammerstad placed infrastructure issues and Foothills redevelopment on the muddy track.

In Foothills, she said efforts to redevelop the area have 'left the gate' but are moving slowly.

She said Foothills remains an opportunity to offer housing options, free up larger homes as existing residents downsize, keep the downtown economically vital and offer choices to new families that boost attendance at local schools.

Hammerstad called sewage leaks to Oswego Lake and other areas 'an intolerable situation' and said the short timeline to repair Lake Oswego's sewers would be a challenge. She advised locals to brace for the impacts of extensive construction.

'It's not just a big job, it's going to cause a lake drawdown. Do you know how unpopular that's going to be?' she said. 'My horoscope said this morning: Do not deal in harsh truths. I don't know how to soften this.'

On the bright side, Hammerstad said reduced water consumption would stave off a needed expansion of the city's water utility, now close to capacity, for another few years.

A recent report from Metro, she said, also points to a favorable climate for linking the Portland Streetcar link to Lake Oswego.

She said there is support for a community center in town and outlined the uniqueness of the Safeco opportunity.

'We are looking at this as a beautiful, developable site at the center of our population with incredible potential for the future,' she said.

'I think in our leaders' previous tradition of recognizing and seizing opportunities, this is the greatest opportunity of our generation,' Hammerstad said.

She said the city continues to look at private funding for the center but cautioned a citizen petition to sell the Safeco building would hamstring the city in the future by calling for a vote on property purchases of $2 million or more.

Hammerstad gave points to incoming city councilors, employees and a visionary community intent on looking ahead.

'With your vision and your support, the ideas we have for Lake Oswego's future will indeed become a reality,' she said.