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Reclaim civic-mindedness in plans for Wizer property

There are some who have advocated support for W&K’s plans for developing the Wizer block, while misrepresenting those who oppose the developer’s plans.

They have portrayed those raising concerns regarding the development as, “naysayers who oppose all development, just as they opposed Lake View Village,” “ those who cannot accept change, “ “obstructers of progress.” 

It is important to question such mischaracterization, for it deters respectful and meaningful community discussion regarding the future of our city’s center.

To address our downtown’s future, I must relay the omitted or inaccurately conveyed history as to how Lake View Village came to be. The village you see today is due, in part, to longtime residents of Lake Oswego — homeowners, with devotion to the civic welfare of our city, who joined in raising concerns about the original plan’s larger density implications. They gave hours of their own time, meeting with Lake View Village’s developer, Barry Cain, business owners and former city manager Doug Schmitz, who helped make these meetings possible. 

Homeowners compromised and collaborated with Mr. Cain and his architect to help design a development that fostered economic stimulation of the downtown and was compatible with the downtown’s village character — defined in part by smaller-scale buildings. The result was the vibrant and tasteful Lake View Village and neighboring condos we enjoy today.

This collaboration was also made possible by Mr. Cain’s civic-mindedness. Mr. Cain responded to homeowners’ concerns with a mutually beneficial, revised plan to reduce the development’s size and density to a more moderate level and create compatibility with smaller-scale village character. The result was a development equally supported by the chamber of commerce and neighboring homeowners that provides us all with access to fine goods, services and dining.

Today, business and homeowners from across the city, including prominent, long-time community members, who support development, are opposing W&K’s development plans for the Wizer block due to concerns regarding its Pearl District size, scale and high-level density, traffic and parking demands and potential to harmfully impact neighboring businesses and homes.

To misrepresent those raising such concerns obfuscates the critical issue: this development’s foreseeable and irrevocable consequences for our downtown and thus for our city. With civic-mindedness, opposition has been raised to this massive development of predominantly rental units for dog owners, in the heart of our downtown, based on intelligent, critical thinking and serious concerns.

We must avoid distracting mischaracterizations of fellow citizens, decline to dismiss one another’s concerns and in so doing, rise to a higher caliber of community dialogue regarding the welfare of our downtown and city. It is crucial that we decline a myopic endorsement of such a development. Failing to acknowledge and address the hidden costs of this development with its profoundly high density may be at too great a cost for so many for the profit of so few.

Anne Meneakis is a resident of Lake Oswego and a former Evergreen Neighborhood Association chair.

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