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An imaginary dialogue offered

I was wrong when I recounted this conversation of the Lake Oswego City Council contemplating the Safeco property purchase in The Oregonian Southwest Weekly in January.

Mayor: Hmmm … we need more space for the Parks and Rec staff. Let's find the most expensive office space per square foot in the state and buy that.

Council: Good idea! But we also need more space for an athletic facility and swimming pools. Let's find the most expensive office space per square foot in the state and buy that.

Mayor: Good idea! But we also need more space for an adult community center and gathering places. Let's find the most expensive office space per square foot in the state and buy that.

Council: Good idea! We also have to think about a new library, three times larger than the one we already have, and second to none. Let's find the most expensive office space per square foot in the state and buy that.

Mayor: Good idea!

Council: Hey, why don't we just combine all these requirements into one and buy one large property. Let's find the most expensive office space per square foot in the state, buy it, knock it down, redesign it, and build a new facility, which can house everything. Maybe we can even move city hall there, too!

All in unison: What a great idea!

What I neglected to relate was the continuing conversation in June:

Mayor: Hmmm…. things don't seem to be going well with convincing the public that spending $100 million for the Safeco community center is a good idea. We can shelve it for now and start a campaign for just moving city hall there. Community center? Fogettaboutit!

We can start by saying how poorly designed and built our city hall is - not earthquake resistant, moldy, too small, 'value engineered' and all that.

Council: We can also say we failed to think of making our fire stations, police station, and 9-1-1 center earthquake-resistant, too. Well … maybe we could phrase that better.

Mayor: Yes, we can ask Brant Williams, our community center development project manager, to take on the Move-City-Hall-to-Safeco project. He might be able to help with the phrasing.

Council: Good idea! Maybe he can also help us with the public spin of how to move city hall to Safeco, even if it costs $40 or $50 million with the land, or whatever.

Mayor: That'll be a trick since totally rebuilding the current city hall in the current site would only cost us $13.5 million including police and 9-1-1.

Council: No problem, we think we can do it. And, anyway, even if we fail, we can still keep it and build the community center on it sometime in the future.

Mayor: Yes, you're right about that. And let's all begin writing letters and commentaries for The Oregonian and the Review, expressing our individual opinions, mind you, supporting moving city hall to Safeco. It's cheaper than the community center. It's already earthquake resistant thanks to Safeco. And no mold. And, and, and, my God! Twice as big as we need! Think of how much we could add! And spend! What a deal that Safeco property purchase was. What an opportunity! Maybe we can condemn the adjoining properties, too!

All: Yes! What a great idea!

And now you know the rest of the story. (To be continued, I'm sure.)

Gordon Umaki is a resident of Lake Oswego.