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Recent changes make city look appealing

As somewhat of a newcomer, I have been reading about the 'Ask Lake Oswegans' petition and the letters to the editor regarding Safeco and the proposed community center with interest. We have lived around the country, in small towns, with and without community centers.

But what I find very troubling and unnecessary is that frequently, I sense rancor and discourtesy toward a City Council that has drastically improved our town's appearance and livability. I'm sure some of the redevelopment had been in the planning stages for years. But with City Council's focus on what this community needed, Lake Oswego has become a thriving and much more appealing town. Property and business owners may be more willing to continue to renew and improve their properties. The town's bond rating remains at AAA.

I recall nine years ago when we drove from Portland, down Highway 43 to Lake Oswego, which was recommended for the schools. Both high schools and many buildings were dilapidated. I wondered why downtown appeared so neglected! Nine years ago, L.O. did not appear to flourish. People just parked in front of a business, then got into their cars and drove to the next establishment. Today, people walk around town, browse shops on foot, enjoy the wonderful outside cafes, the farmer's market and music in the parks; kids dangle their feet from stone walls eating ice cream. Those who were downtown on the 4th of July certainly relished the parade, food, music, boats and a wonderful sense of community at the star-spangled celebration at Millennium Park. Once a 'drive-through' town, Lake Oswego has become a thriving destination. This transformation is not an accident. It took vision and leadership to make it happen. There is a silent majority proud of the transformation.

The 'Ask Lake Oswegans' petition could unnecessarily tie the hands of a City Council that has served Lake Oswego well. City Hall could be held hostage by self-interest groups, such as those who fought or sued the town over pole signs, wasting time and the town's money, rather than looking at what is best for the community. City Council should not be limited to $2 million purchases which could kill future opportunities while the different factions fight it out.

We do need infrastructure. Yet, I have experienced the value of young and old spending time together at a community center. For years, there has been a cry from citizens for a new library, a pool, a community center. The Safeco property may be a worthwhile investment for the town. If it turns out that by vote, most residents don't want the purchase, Safeco can be sold.

I am not suggesting that all people unhappy with the Safeco purchase or a community center are hostile, or misguided, or that every decision made by City Council is the best decision. However, when we express our concerns, we should do so with respect for City Council's vision, hard work and accomplishments. If you lived here for a very long time, it may be easy to forget Lake Oswego just 10 years ago and take for granted the good fortune we share living here today. We can dissent without being contentious.

Leslie Pirrotta is a resident of Lake Oswego.