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Keeping Safeco could hurt First Addition

Why I am voting to sell Safeco.

My vote isn't that I don't support the purchase of Safeco - rather I feel I am voting to preserve the downtown Lake Oswego.

The current and previous city councils have succeeded in making our downtown community one of the most desirable in the nation - for which I am grateful and appreciative of their effort and vision.

It is my personal opinion, if Safeco is retained, the city will immediately decide to move the city hall and the library to that site. Economically, for city operations, it would make sense.

In the big picture of preserving downtown Lake Oswego, it would be a disaster to lose these two amenities.

Sept. 10, 2001, Crandall Arambula Consultants reported back to Lake Oswego City Council that keeping city hall and the library downtown were essential to reinvigorating the Lake Oswego downtown area.

In the Planning Commissioners Journal, (2003Winter issue), Public Buildings Keep Town Centers Alive, by Philip Langdon 'Post offices, municipal halls, libraries, courthouses and other public buildings can play a critical role in keeping downtown and town centers strong.

Conversely, the loss of key public buildings can seriously damage the fabric of downtown.'

Last week, the city of Lake Oswego started the process to tear down the U.S. Bank building and begin construction on the Millennium Plaza Park. This Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency project has been in the city's master plan since 1986. I recently asked the city council to consider delaying this project. My reasons were:

1. Was there a possible interim use of this building - pending the Safeco vote. For example; city hall annex for staff offices to alleviate overcrowding at our current city hall.

2. Timing and perception. Citizens are thinking about rate increases to pay for the sewer interceptor and possible bond measures to construct a new city hall.

Tearing down a usable building for needed meeting space and possible office space could be postponed.

Our city has great 'curb appeal.' We now need to focus on fixing some internal plumbing and structure issues that come with all older cities. Lets get these internal issues fixed and paid for - then get on adding the fun amenities.

Brenda Hart is a resident of Lake Oswego.