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Safeco has some alternatives

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Re: My Apology

Following publication of the Aug. 9 Lake Oswsego Review, a well-informed citizen contacted me to inquire about my statement where I was quoted as saying that city council had created a misconception that the Safeco Building was purchased for a community center. While the quotation accurately reflects what I said at the time, I must confess that I misspoke myself and offer my sincere apology to the residents of this city. What I meant to say or should have said was that there was a misconception that the Safeco Building was purchased 'solely' for purposes of being a community center.

A review of city council resolution 06-15 confirms that, while a community center clearly was the primary objective at the time the decision to purchase was made, other alternatives were also contemplated. Resolution 06-15 states:

Acquisition of the following described real property … would benefit the public by providing the opportunity to use all or part of the property to construct, operate and maintain a community center, together with uses that may include aquatic facilities, sports or recreation facilities, exercise facilities, meeting spaces, classroom spaces, public offices, library facilities, parking facilities, athletic fields and/or a senior center, or any combination of the foregoing uses, with or without the participation of, or partnership with, private entities.'

I believe that, as your elected representative, it is incumbent upon me to deal with facts and circumstances as they exist now -not the situation that existed in 2005 and 2006 when the building was purchased. I perceive that residents of this city are concerned because they have learned how much the interceptor sewer is likely to cost; they have been informed that it has been guesstimated that it will cost in the neighborhood of $15 million to renovate and repair the existing city hall and they have recently learned that improvements will likely be required to our water supply system in the foreseeable future. I surmise that they view the proposed community center as an expense that can be avoided or, at the least, delayed for now in light of the above necessities. I am sympathetic to that point of view. At the same time the concept of a community center for Lake Oswego does not die just because it might have to be delayed.

Having been presented with these facts and desiring to deal with them in a fiscally conservative and financially responsible manner I currently am leaning very strongly toward the opinion that the citizens of Lake Oswego would be best served by selling the current city hall and library sites for development and moving both of those facilities to the Safeco site. I want to emphasize the fact that these are my personal opinions and not those of the council. The council has neither discussed nor debated these options. Also, I could change my mind if presented with facts of which I am currently unaware.

It has been 'guesstimated' that the city can net in the neighborhood of $10 million from sale of those two properties. Not only that, but it will also save the $15 million required to repair and renovate city hall at its current site. The Safeco building can adequately house both institutions. And with added footings and inserted steel beams I believe that it could be increased to three or four floors at some indefinite time in the future when additional space may be required or the citizens may opt to add a community center to the building and create a true 'municipal center.' I perceive multiple advantages to this concept and I am proposing that we initiate a public discourse on this option. I am willing to discuss the pros and cons with anyone who wishes to do so.

Roger Hennagin is a member of the Lake Oswego City Council.