On June 15, I attended a Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) meeting where the Luscher Area Final Draft Site Plan was presented. As many already know, Luscher Farm is an award-winning gem of beauty, refuge and environmental stewardship. It is the demonstration home of Oregon Tilth, an organic certification entity whose influence is international in scope. There is a successful CSA. The farm provides education, classes and clean, local, affordable food for hundreds of families, including a half-ton donated to local food banks. Calls come in nationwide asking how this model can be implemented elsewhere. Because Luscher Farm is so popular, citizen demand cannot be met and there is a three-year waiting list to be admitted to the community garden.
But, in stunning industrial slash-and- burn style, PRAB's plan wants it all gone in favor of a mega sports and entertainment complex, turning a rural gem into an overdeveloped urban nightmare, with new roads, new parking lots, increased traffic and light, noise and waste pollution issues. All of the very popular farm programs that have made Luscher Farm what it is today will be destroyed, moved or repurposed. Sustainability, natural resource and cost questions were raised at the meeting and dismissed by the board. Other elements in the plan were very poorly thought through. And for months, public opinion has been sought as input, and options have been developed - with votes taken and tabulated. The majority of votes indicate that public opinion sides with keeping the Luscher area mostly as is. The four most popularly desired elements for the use of this land are already being met - as is. But, lest they lose control, PRAB then proceeded to lecture the attendees that such public input was not 'representative.' Wow, since when was a majority opinion not valid in a democracy? Answer: Since PRAB's co-chair Steve Dodds publicly stated that Parks and Rec will do what it wants - period -making all the meetings and public opinion surveys just an expensive taxpayer-funded quasi-democratic dog and pony show to prettify their blatant takeover of LO citizen wishes. During the meeting, Dodds made no effort to disguise his irritation with citizen after citizen who pled that Luscher Farm be protected and preserved.
In a further show of power, Parks director Kim Gilmer denied the Natural Resource Advisory Board's request that the June 15 meeting be held jointly, thus keeping NRAB's input out of the meeting. We cannot allow Parks and Rec to simply railroad this plan through. Lake Oswego's Natural Resource and Sustainability Advisory Boards need to get involved and take an unbiased look at the data and impact of this proposed plan. The public supports keeping organic farming and environmental stewardship front and center at Luscher Farm and the master plan should too.
Ann Christensen is a resident of Lake Oswego.