Luscher Farm is a regional treasure
It is in the best interest of Lake Oswego if both the citizens and their city government are able to work together for the common good. This is the way to build a strong community and trust in government. What I and many others have witnessed these past several years is quite the opposite. What we have is nothing short of civic hedonism and legacy building at the expense of prudence, common sense and fiscal responsibility.
This is occurring yet again in regards to the Luscher Farm properties. The Luscher Farm Master Plan is a short-sighted manifestation of the ballfield-centric Parks Master Plan Advisory Committee with little if any input from those who care about maintaining this regional treasure for future generations. It has been my observation that, at best, lip service was paid by the Parks Master Plan Advisory Committee to any advocacy for maintaining this treasure and any potential restoration of wildlife habitat. This master plan was devised from the get go as a vehicle for sports fields and an event center. The Luscher Farm Master Plan design charettes were held only to give credence to a charade that Parks and Recreation and this committee were listening to the citizens of Lake Oswego.
A majority of citizens expressed their desire not to see this treasure ruined. It has also been my observation that the city of Lake Oswego pays lip service to sensitive lands that it owns while restricting private property rights vis a vis sensitive lands.
To have Kim Gilmer, the director of the Parks and Recreation Department, state before city council that the current uses on Luscher Farm violate the county zoning of exclusive farm use and thus need to be brought into the UGB is at best spurious. Is Clackamas County really going to wag its zoning finger at Lake Oswego? Her testimony before council was intended to get the Luscher Farm properties into the UGB as she had directed the consultants doing the Master Plan to design the plan as if the farm properties were already within the UGB and thus subject to Lake Oswego zoning. Does she really believe that community gardens and Community Sustainable Agriculture somehow violate farm use zoning?
Just three or four years ago I was told by Kim Gilmer that Lake Oswego doesn't need more sports fields; that it had enough. I wonder what has changed in the interim to where now the Luscher Farm properties need to be morphed into more sports fields and an event center? Is this the first 'Natural Step' in the ultimate goal to develop North Stafford?
The city council can interpret open space and sensitive lands on city-owned property to mean a new golf driving range, an indoor tennis center, sports fields and an event center on rural lands in the Stafford area. Does it foster trust and respect to minimize natural resource preservation when it suits the city's purpose? How does the city expect to 'preserve and foster our distinctive character' in this case with minimal sustainability, natural resource, or stakeholder representation? This is the sort of short-sighted self-serving decision making that fuels the schism we currently observe in our community.
Russell Jones is a resident of Lake Oswego. He is on the Lake Oswego Planning Commission and treasurer of the Friends of Luscher Farm.