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The Inconvenient Truth about Safeco

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The 'inconvenient truth' about Safeco is precisely that - it's 'inconvenience.' The location of Safeco is so inconveniently located that seniors, who heretofore were attending classes at the adult community center in the First Addition are finding it difficult to attend those now-relocated classes at Safeco. So, they don't go. Since there is limited Tri-Met bus service to Safeco, transportation- disadvantaged seniors must depend on friends to take them. That is an 'inconvenience' to their friends and, so, they are not asked - ending with the same result - the seniors stay home.

The Parks and Recreation Department is extremely zealous with its slick brochure by propagandizing the public into thinking that the building is desperately needed for classes of almost any imaginable type and, that without it, we will surely be underprivileged beyond belief. Actually, before Safeco, many classes were held successfully around the city, at much more centrally located facilities, and at a fraction of the cost.

There seems to be the notion that this entire largess, complements of the Park and Recreation Department, is free for the citizens, albeit a token course fee. Of course, we know better than that. With the loan interest only payments to the bank, Safeco is costing taxpayers (without their vote) over $84,000 per month. The city's budget states that $300,000 additional costs are incurred per year for maintenance and utilities. That's an additional $25,000/month. In total, then, the Safeco Parks and Recreation program has a monthly fixed cost of at least $100,000. Year-to-date it has cost taxpayers an additional $2.5 million over the $20 million original purchase just last year.

With this exuberance of program expansion, over 20 new 'temporary' employees have been put on the payroll. It's the proverbial 'camel with its nose under the tent' routine where, before you know it, the camel is in the living room.

More of the 'inconvenient truth' about Safeco is how environmentally non-compliant it is regarding the violation of city 'sustainability' and 'water conservation goals.' A major sustainability goal, according to the city's Web site, is the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles. Oh, yes, they want city employees to carpool to work and use the bus (across the street at Safeway). In contrast, think of all those trips to Safeco by the employees and class attendees and whatever else the comings and goings to Safeco require via those nasty CO-2 emission-spewing cars - creating more global warming and smog. Oh, no, Safeco is in no way a carbon neutral, air quality friendly acquisition of the city council.

What about the city's water conservation goal of a 20 percent reduction in consumption? Safeco is a bad culprit there, too. This summer, an additional 150,000 gallons each month was wasted to irrigate the lawns and English ivy (deemed a 'noxious weed' by the State Agriculture Department) at Safeco, costing an additional $1,000 per month. The city has over 140 water accounts and consumes over 4 percent of all the water consumption in town. The city is not conserving but growing in its appetite for water. That means the rest of us will have to shower with a friend again or put a rock in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water for the flush. Let's not even talk about what happens after that with our sewer system the way it is and was allowed to get that way by the city's inaction.

It is becoming more and more obvious that the Safeco property purchase by the city Council was an 'impulse buy.' There was no public request for it as a community center. It is inconvenient to reach and is not environmentally compatible with the city's environmental goals. For these reasons, it must be sold, not retained.

Please vote 'no' on their non-binding measure 3-273. Safeco was a very bad and costly decision by the city council. Vote 'yes' on 3-269 to protect our future from such decisions.

John Surrett, Lake Oswego, is spokesperson for Ask Lake Oswegans.