Regular meeting delayed to allow the public to speak out

by: SUBMITTED RENDERING: WAYNE CHIN - The plan for the Lakeridge stadium is developing.

The public will get the chance Monday to weigh in on the hotly debated Lakeridge High stadium project, the Lake Oswego School District superintendent announced.

There not only will be an opportunity for public testimony next week, and the board also could make a decision on the project, which currently has an estimate $2.2 million, well above an initial estimate of $1.25 million for the project, something that has irked some local residents.

The regular meeting, which was to be held Monday, was delayed until Tuesday to allow the board to hear out the public before deciding on the issue. The board is scheduled to vote on the stadium project at the Tuesday regular school board session, when it will not be taking testimony on the issue.

The Lake Oswego School Board will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday at the Lakeridge High School library, 1235 Overlook Drive.

“We need to give the public a good opportunity to talk to the board,” said Bill Korach, school district superintendent.

The Review’s many letters to the editor on the issue show opposition and support, and there has been a good deal of email communications with local school board members and the public. The majority of the board supported moving forward with the project last week.

With the stipulation that the project would be re-bid, the Lake Oswego School Board voted 4-1 April 21 to continue with the Lakeridge High School stadium project.

The low bid came in at $1.9 million for construction, and the total cost is projected to be $2.2 million, which was higher than a recent project estimate of $1.5 million, which in turn was greater than a $1.25 million initial estimate.

Board member Bob Barman said the re-bid could help bring that cost down, and he also thinks the $250,000 in architect fees seem high (the costs are part of the $2.2 million).

“Bob Barman thinks that’s a lot,” Barman said. “’Mr. Architect,’ lower it.”

He also said that the stadium serves all athletic groups and local people who need outdoor space.

“I’ve heard it referred to as a football stadium,” he said. “It’s about the whole community.”

Board Chairwoman Patti Zebrowski was the sole “no” vote and said she did not support going through with the project at this point when there are more pressing capital improvement projects, including leaky roofs at several school district buildings.

“I think it violates my fiduciary responsibility as a steward of the district’s funds,” she said.

Zebrowski said the Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools’ stadiums don’t necessarily need to be the same. Lake Oswego’s stadium is covered and is being remodeled.

“It somehow turned into the ultimate issue of parity,” she said.

The board plans to commit construction excise tax revenue to the project, which is projected to be about $1 million by this fall. Other funding sources could include donations, loans and operating funds, but that has not been decided.

Barman said he hopes that the public will support the project by raising $500,000 in donations.

At the April 21 meeting, the board had planned to move forward with the base project, which would be a press box and covering over the central area of the seating, rather than full covering and other elements such as a new concession/weightroom building.

Board member Sarah Howell said the Lakeridge stadium has a long way to go.

“It’s not yet at the level taken for granted at other schools,” Howell said.

By Jillian Daley
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