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Federal dock, strings, go forward in city

Lake Oswego will get a federally funded dock on the shores of the Willamette River, despite some opposition from neighbors and two dissenting votes from city councilors concerned about potential problems.

The Lake Oswego City Council tentatively approved acceptance of the funds from the Boating Infrastructure Grant program back in April, but promised voters a more thorough look at potential problems before moving forward.

The group went all-in on Tuesday, choosing a dock design and officially saying yes to federal money. Those who voted in favor of the dock seized on the lowest-cost option for local taxpayers: A 520-foot dock built on existing pilings on the shores of Foothills Park.

The proposal will call for $129,995 in local money paid through fees developers funnel toward parks. The remainder of its $658,995 value will be supplied through federal and state grant money and through matching funds. The city has already fulfilled its matching obligation by constructing pathway improvements and bathrooms at Foothills Park, valued at $157,602.

But the federal grant money comes with some conditions, including a mandate to accommodate overnight boaters for up to three days.

Neighbors across the river objected to the three-night stay, citing concerns about livability. They also worried a federally funded dock, which must be built far enough from shore to allow a 40-foot boat to turn around, would hog too much of a narrow swath of river and push traffic to the east since a no-wake zone would be required around it.

City councilors heard alternatives to the federal design on Tuesday, including figures on the cost to construct other docks. The cheapest of those called for $488,695 in local funds for a smaller dock 320 feet long.

City Councilors Ellie McPeak and John Turchi again voted against accepting grant money for the dock.

'I believe that by accepting the federal funds we give up needed control we might want to exercise in the future,' Turchi said.

McPeak echoed those remarks, adding city funds would be better spent on things like sewer problems and surface water improvements.

But other city councilors voted in favor of taking the federal money for the second time, (excepting Jack Hoffman, who was absent).

Frank Groznik said the city has come a long way in negotiating with federal officials, including reducing a 10-night stay to three-days, reducing the dock's intrusion into the water and reusing existing pilings to reduce costs.

Others agreed the city had thoroughly explored the alternatives.