Much has been written regarding the process and development of the West End Building as a community/recreational facility. It is difficult for an average citizen to understand the fiscal implications involved in this development. So my research and the basis of this view deals with intangible values that are difficult to quantify. I have used a nationally known expert in the field of Recreation and Parks programs in my research. Direct quotes from John Crompton will be in parenthesis.
Mr. Compton poses the following questions for a community to consider in the development and marketing of recreational facilities and programs. These are the same questions that this community needs to consider.
1. Can we suggest that the development of the West End building as a centralized recreational facility might be an 'enhancement that improves the quality of life of citizens, business owners and their employees and the seniors of a community and has a measurable and positive effect on the bottom line of government coffers and business'?
2. Can we ask if the recreational facility development ' enhances a community's quality of life, which embraces its livability, 'feel' and aesthetic integrity?'
3. Can we ask if the central recreational facility creates a sense of community?
My personal answer to all these questions is a resounding, YES.
It is obvious to me as a result of my research that the primary purpose of park and recreational facilities and programs cannot be financially justified although financial justification for providing them is nearly always required. With more time, I believe that the financial justification for the West End development can be made.
Have the steering committee and city officials not heard the following objections:
1. I am not in favor of the West End Building since we cannot afford either the capital acquisition and development because of more pressing priorities, or the loss of operational revenue if the land is removed from the tax rolls;
2. The West End building represents a concept that services provided are only there because a particular segment of a community want them, ie. selected user groups. Hence, these services are now perceived as being a discretionary government service. Have we not heard that 'most' Lake Oswego taxpayers would not be frequent users of such a facility; hence, the conclusion is that the support of this centralized facility is seriously eroded;
3. If only a special segment of our community would use the facility or programs, why should the rest of us have to pay? What is in it for us?
All of the above concerns are legitimate and can only be answered by each individual.
Lastly, I believe that what we are encountering in Lake Oswego has a long history from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that saw the emergence of recreational and park activities as providing 'meritorious social outcomes' to the community. I have pondered and asked myself that question for a long time and believe that the development of the West End building as a centralized recreational/Community center would enhance the livability and would produce meritorious social outcomes for the Lake Oswego community for generations to come. I hope that there are more citizens that feel that way and will speak out to the city council and steering committee and will start to write letters and express their views.
Robert Lawrence is a resident of Lake Oswego.