Hold onto Safeco; its a unique asset for LO
A citizens' group wants to sell the Safeco building, and two ballot measures address it. The first is a backwards way of addressing the question, capping all city spending and requiring voters to micro-manage the city purse. The second is straightforward, approving the purchase of Safeco.
The city has financial needs - sewer replacement, water improvements, and repairs to city hall. But we should not sell Safeco. Neither should we spend too much until we decide how much we are willing to pay for.
Just because we keep Safeco, doesn't mean we have to spend a fortune on it. We can use it now (if) we need it. There are very few large sites in the city suitable for library expansion, governmental services or community center uses. Most Kruse Way buildings are too large. Downtown has no suitable lots. The south-side has traffic limitations.
Safeco is unique, with 14.7 acres - over 8 acres after subtracting wetlands. The building, 89,000 square feet, is in good condition. There are 298 parking spaces with land for expansion. Two access roads both have traffic signals.
The west end of town is under-served by city services. The library could open a branch, or move there, leaving plenty of room for city offices, and eventually, a community center. We can move more offices from city hall to Safeco, temporarily or permanently, when a decision is made to repair or replace city hall's mold and seismic problems.
It is shortsighted to sell Safeco now. Land and buildings aren't getting cheaper. We own it, and it will be a good long-term investment in the west side. It will serve as a gateway to Lake Oswego from I-5 and 217, and offer public services in the Lake Grove employment area.
We should hold onto this unique asset and plan to develop Safeco more intensively later, after we decide what to do with city hall. We can always sell it later.
Vote to keep Safeco and to reject the spending cap. Selling Safeco is shortsighted, and the spending cap is not needed.
Ed Trompke is a resident of Lake Oswego.