Mike Davis suggests that Gordon Umaki run for office, 'and truly receive a mandate from Lake Oswego voters,' ('Umaki's views are proving tiresome to keep reading,' Review, May 10). What a grand idea! Gordon Umaki would bring reason, accountability and lucid thinking to city hall. And best of all, a pair of listening ears.
In the matter of community recreation, the voters have expressed themselves again and again, but no one is listening. In scientific citizen surveys dating back to 1996, Lake Oswego citizens have consistently indicated that recreation should not be a priority for city council. In the last three consecutive scientific survey years, respondents have given recreation a piddling 3 percent priority rating and they have repeatedly and consistently indicated greater interest in schools, street maintenance, traffic, neighborhood pathways and growth management than in recreation.
Yet in December of '05, when the first meeting took place at Lakeridge (High School) regarding the proposed community center, city officials claimed to have hatched this plan in response to strong citizen demand over a number of years. It was a spurious claim then and it's a spurious claim now. There is simply no strong public support for a community center. Ten years of scientific citizen surveys tell a different tale.
In 1996, an overwhelming majority desired no increase in levels of service for recreation, library, teen and adult community center programs.
In 1998, the survey says: 'An Aquatic complex had the lowest level of support, with only 2 in 10 rating it a high priority.'
In 2000, four in 10 respondents said that a new recreation facility should not be a priority and Campbell deLong reported, 'Based on these findings, it appears that gaining voter approval of a bond measure to fund a new recreation facility will likely take a great deal of effort on behalf of the city and council members.'
In 2003, Campbell deLong concluded, '… it seems unlikely that funding for a major new recreation/aquatic center would generate the required support within the community at this time.'
In 2005, the most current scientific citizen survey, respondents clearly indicated only tepid support for a community center and Campbell deLong warned city council: 'Clearly, if city council believes that building a community center would be of great value to the community, it will have to work to build the kind of support that will be necessary for a bond measure to pass.'
And so city council is working hard, with your tax dollars, to create the illusion of public support for its vision of a memorable Centennial project.
It's a tough sell. Although the average Lake Oswegan is rapidly approaching retirement and a fixed income, city hall must persuade us it's a grand idea to burden our aging population with mountains of new debt for years to come. Although 69 percent of Lake Oswego households have no children under the age of 18, school enrollment is down and the cost of housing too high to attract young families, city hall must persuade us to spend $100 million for recreation at a time when we have a costly public health and safety hazard on our doorstep, with raw sewage spills in our lake and in some neighborhood streets.
Gordon Umaki is to be applauded for helping to raise awareness of the fact that public money is being squandered without public approval and in defiance of the public will.
If he can see farther than his own personal wish list, Mr. Davis and others like him should spend a weekend reading the citizen surveys and becoming acquainted with the will of the community. He may conclude, as I did, that city leaders either neglected to read these surveys or read them and ignored their findings. Either way, we have a problem and it's time for new ears at city hall.
Jacqueline Heydenrych is a resident of Lake Oswego.