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Council gives OK to Luscher master plan


Tennis center, use of historic barn are sticking points in discussion

The Lake Oswego City Council has tentatively approved a master plan guiding the next 25 years of development in the Luscher Farm area.

The council on Tuesday voted 7-0 in favor of the new Luscher Area Master Plan after suggesting a couple of adjustments.

Council members directed city staff to remove language calling for construction of a new indoor tennis center across Stafford Road from Luscher Farm. Instead, the plan now designates the property for “active recreation” uses — which won’t preclude a tennis center there but definitely don’t require one.by: REVIEW FILE PHOTO -

And rather than eventually converting Luscher Farm’s big white barn into an events center of sorts, the plan will now call for retaining the barn’s historical character and agricultural functions while allowing some flexibility with its future use.

Kasey Holwerda, chairwoman of the city’s historic resources board, noted about 22 acres of Luscher Farm is county-designated as a historic district, affording it certain protections. She said the barn is a key feature within the historic area.

“We need the barn for the agricultural use of the land; that is the historic use of the building,” she said.

Holwerda stressed that farm uses wouldn’t necessarily interfere with events.

“You can still have a barn dance in a barn without turning it into an event center,” she said. “We don’t see why the barn has to be turned into anything but a barn.”

Holwerda was among members of a working group that helped fine-tune the plan and will likely provide the seeds for a new “friends” group to help implement it.

Gregory Monahan, co-chairman of the city’s sustainability board and also part of the working group, said the team reached a consensus despite lingering differences of opinion on certain elements.

“Even though we disagree about some things, we are united by our common passion for this bundle of land that we all recognize to be unique and totally unlike any other property in the metro area,” he said.

Monahan said he had concerns about building a tennis center at the city’s edge because it could disturb the “rural character of the land,” as the Luscher area properties provide a “buffer between urban Lake Oswego and the surrounding Stafford triangle.”

Former City Councilor Mary Olson also testified at the hearing. A member of the parks and recreation advisory board when the city bought Luscher Farm, she said the intent back then was to only offer a small amount of recreation at that site.

“Luscher Farm should not be viewed as a moneymaker or revenue generator,” Olson said, later adding: “These properties were intended to be a buffer between our city and future development in Stafford.”

She also questioned the suggestion of eventually offering a ropes challenge course on one of the Luscher area properties.

“I view it as somewhat of a liability to the city to have something like that,” she said.

The city initiated the master planning process for the area at the beginning of 2011, building on a previous plan that mainly focused on Luscher Farm, a 42-acre property the city bought in 1990. Previously a dairy farm owned by Rudi and Esther Luscher, Luscher Farm now serves as a working and educational agricultural center near the juncture of Rosemont and Stafford roads. The complex includes community gardens, a children’s garden and a clematis collection, plus a historical home, barn and similar agricultural elements.

The newer version of the master plan includes all eight properties the city owns in the overall 150-acre Luscher area. It represents a community vision for use and development of the land for the two decades, calling for development of additional gardens and sports fields along with pathways and restored areas with streams and similar natural resources.

Ryan Stee, a parks project manager, said the plan had to be flexible because the properties have varying deed restrictions and were purchased with different uses in mind, with money from different bonds. In addition, some of the properties are inside of city limits while others are outside, in unincorporated Clackamas County.

“That dictated a lot of the plan as seen today,” he said.

The council directed city staff members to bring a revised version to a future meeting for final adoption.

In other business Tuesday:

  • The council granted a requested rate increase of 4 percent for solid waste and recycling collection in the city.

    To provide support for its request, waste services provider Republic Services of Lake Oswego — formerly Allied Waste — pointed to inflation of 6.3 percent since 2010, a 40 percent increase in fuel costs since 2010, a 16.2 percent increase in disposal costs over the past three years and declining recycling commodity revenues.

    About 70 percent of Lake Oswego residents use a 35-gallon cart; those customers will see an increase of 96 cents on their monthly bills, according to the city. The city will also see a small boost in revenue as a result of price increase because it has a 5 percent franchise fee for waste services.

    The change is effective July 1.

  • The council approved a three-year contract with the Arts Council of Lake Oswego, which maintains the city’s public art collection and administers the Gallery Without Walls and Percent for Art programs. The contract is for $100,000 annually for three years.

  • The council awarded a $497,354 public improvement contract to Kerr Contractors to rebuild the rail crossing between Jean Way and 63rd Avenue on Boones Ferry Road.

    The project will require the complete closure of a section of Boones Ferry Road to all traffic for five days in August.