Effort builds to Bring Our Pacers Home to LHS
- Cori Bolger
- Lake Oswego Review - News
It's hard to miss the grassroots campaign to build support for changing the conditional use permit on a Lakeridge High School field and 'Bring Our Pacers Home.'
So far, the committee behind it hasn't missed an opportunity to tell the public about why the CUP restrictions - which prevent the Lakeridge football team from playing on the field - should be lifted.
In this year's Lakeridge homecoming parade, for example, kids dressed as the cast of 'The Wizard of Oz' carried signs that said 'There's no place like home.'
Bumper stickers on student and parent cars urge residents on both sides of the lake to support the effort. The committee also has its own Web site with an online petition. And at the Civil War game Friday, blue fliers advertising the site rained down on fans like confetti after the Pacers scored.
They came from the hands of Cathy Shroyer, an impassioned Lakeridge parent and chair of the Conditional Use Steering Committee, who tears up at the thought of watching a football game on Lakeridge turf.
'It was beautiful that Lakeridge was the home team (that night).' she said. 'We could have gone overboard and said, 'This is not our house' but we're trying to keep the emotional part out of it and present the facts.'
The main goal of the committee, she said, is to distribute accurate information to educate residents about the CUP. For example, many parents of younger students don't know Lakeridge plays its 'home' games at the district stadium beside cross-town foe Lake Oswego High School.
'It was an awareness issue,' Shroyer said. 'We had to make people aware of what's going on, why it's an issue and why it's a problem.'
The idea for a home Pacer football game has existed for a long time, but periodic efforts to see it through always fell short. Each time the idea came up, neighbors who lived a stone's throw from the field expressed worry over increased traffic, parking and noise.
Then, in June, a group of students and parents presented the idea to Principal Mike Lehman, who has maintained good relations with the neighbors for the past three years.
Lehman liked the idea, so he asked for support from the Lake Oswego School Board - and got it. Ian Lamont, the school's new athletic director, got on board and the Palisades Neighborhood Association chimed in with a 93 percent vote supporting the CUP change.
'It certainly seemed the time was right to address this issue,' Shroyer said. 'All of these pieces of the puzzle were in place for the first time.'
In return, the school board asked Lehman to form a committee and task it with gathering opinions from the rest of the community. Lehman called on Shroyer, who took a closer look at the CUP after meeting with city officials.
'The way it was written was ingenious because it basically makes it impossible to have a home game because of wording,' Shroyer said.
In her research, Shroyer discovered that Lakeridge couldn't host more people on campus than the 350 parking spots on-site. In doing so, the school is in violation of the permit almost every day, she said.
Even if the committee shuttled fans in for the game, as it originally proposed, the school would still violate the CUP.
'That's when we went 'Holy cow, this needs to be changed,'' Shroyer said. 'At that point it wasn't about football anymore. We realized we have a bigger problem. This impacts more sports than just football. It impacts the day-to-day functioning of the school.'
Shroyer enlisted other Lakeridge parents and community members who bring their knowledge, skills and enthusiasm to the group. They have collected about 5,000 signatures in favor of the changes.
That number shadows the handful of nearby residents who have repeatedly asked the district to leave the CUP alone. The committee believes that four home football games per year is not a lot to ask of the neighbors.
'We have the time and energy to keep people on task,' said John Hoch, Lakeridge parent and committee member. '(Neighbors) have worn people out again and again but we're not going to get worn out. This is the right thing to do.'
The committee wants Lakeridge and LOHS to have equal treatment and for the district to eventually add extra seating, bathrooms, a concession stand and a public announcement system to the Lakeridge field.
That way, the school could host lacrosse and soccer playoff games and kids could hear their names called out on the public announcement system.
Down the road, the committee would also like Lakeridge to have covered seating to accommodate younger and older fans who want to attend games but can't in bad weather.
Most importantly, the Pacers would finally have a place to play that actually feels like home.
'The district stadium is not a neutral site,' Shroyer said. 'We have no place of our own to funnel our time and resources.'
Still, they emphasize that the issue isn't about building a stadium - yet. A CUP change is necessary to bring Lakeridge up to the standards of a 6-A public high school, utilize its facilities in the best way possible and attract students from outside the district.
A quick walk from the tailgating party to the game would be nice, too.
'We're missing that sense of community the other has and can enjoy,' said Brigette Howley, Lakeridge parent and committee member. 'To deny a school what another school has is not right,'
For more on the Conditional Use Steering Committee, its plan and the CUP itself, visit www.changethecup.com.