Plan to play 2008 homecoming game at Lakeridge approved by school board

The Pacer varsity football team could play its first game on the Lakeridge High School campus in 2008, but only if nearby residents and the city approve the plan.

Principal Mike Lehman brought the idea before the Lake Oswego School Board Tuesday.

The short-term goal is to have the Lakeridge Homecoming game - complete with band, cheerleaders and fans - played on the school's artificial turf game field next fall.

Lakeridge currently plays its home football games at the district stadium at Lake Oswego High School.

The long-term goal, Lehman said, is to allow the team to play several games at Lakeridge during future football seasons. First, the school must prove that the event can be pulled off successfully with neighbor support.

Lakeridge administrators plan to hold a meeting with neighbors Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. in the school library to discuss concerns and the potential for a homecoming game.

'We have a great cooperative relationship with our neighbors,' Lehman said. 'We believe (the game) would be fun for everybody, including them.'

For years, the fields at Lakeridge have been a topic of controversy and extensive dialogue between school administrators and residents who live near the school.

A number of neighbors have complained about problems tied to speeding, parking, traffic and noise caused by those who use the fields.

After he joined the school staff, Lehman began working with the neighbors to try to resolve those issues. The school also held numerous meetings to discuss construction of the new artificial turf practice field.

Lehman believes the school now has full neighbor support.

'Thank you for changing the perception (of the school),' Linda Brown, board chair, told him. 'It was a contentious (subject) at one point but I believe it's time to take a look at (having a game).'

Lehman said school neighbors would receive VIP passes to the game and coupons for unlimited burgers, soda and popcorn. They will also take home a complimentary Pacer sweatshirt, he added.

'It's a token of the respectful relationship we have with our neighbors,' Lehman said.

A varsity game with thousands of attendees would require changes to the school's current conditional use permit. Shuttle buses and temporary grandstands may also be necessary, Lehman said.

Modifications to the permit would include restrictions on parking, the public address system, placement of seating and an extension that keeps lights on past 10 p.m. The event would last about three hours, Lehman said.

Lehman received full board support and compliments all around. District administrators said they are prepared to make the commitment in time and energy required to engage in the city's conditional use process, which could take up to nine months.

'Everybody realizes it's nice to have your own field and call it home,' board member Rich Akerman said. 'You get a lot of momentum, kids and spirit. I think you'll have the support of the entire community.'

Sally Moncrieff, Palisades Neighborhood Association chair, said there is tremendous support from families on both sides of the lake.

'We're in a position where people are cooperative and want to do what's best for the community,' she said.

The neighborhood association, which includes 1,600 homes, has not yet met to discuss the plan.

Ridge Point Drive resident John 'Jay' Mills Woodworth, however, believes the game would be a 'bad idea.'

'It would be terrible for the Cloverleaf people,' he said, referring to a stretch of road that's been plagued with parking issues.

The school should have the game at the city's new Luscher Farm artificial turf field instead, he said. The field is under construction and will be completed by late fall.

'Both the school district and the city have an agenda and it doesn't include the neighborhood,' he said.

Cindy Lewis, a neighbor who wants the school to follow its conditional use requirements, said many neighbors do not know of Lehman's plan.

The upcoming meeting will bring all opinions to the table, she added.

'The amount of impact that an event like this would have on the surrounding neighborhoods might not be well received,' she said.

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