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The WEB is a beautiful addition to LO

The West End Building is a beautiful addition to Lake Oswego. The top photo is a December 2013 shot of West End Building. The bottom photo shows the Tigard library on Hall Boulevard.

Both are on busy streets but set back graciously with greenery and side yard parking. Each creates a feeling of space in a natural setting. It would be difficult to find another site on 14 acres that each embraces. Both avoid the congestion of downtown, and inspire great dreams and achievements.

When a city dedicates these kinds of structures for public use, it says something about the sense of values of the inhabitants. If we retain the WEB there is much to be done to fully utilize its many potentials. Suggestions have included a) a branch library; seismic design of the building as an office building limits heavy bookshelves to the first floor. Like the main library computers and offices could occupy the second floor; b) police department; c) since present city hall sits on a fault line other departments might be considered as well.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO  - The West End Building is set off a busy street in Lake Oswego on a large piece of property.

Current uses

A previous city council seized the opportunity to buy the WEB from Safeco in 2006. Their vision was to use the building as a community hall for the western half of the city annexed in 1959. Then the global recession hit and that vision was put on hold. However, a second city council made some progress. Currently the WEB houses 1) the parks and recreation department. This is a good fit with the original intent for the WEB. 2) pending water department office with Tigard; 3) teenagers’ social room; 4) dance classes; 5) day care; 6) music programs; 7) club meetings and 8) city hall meetings.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Likewise, the Tigard Public Library is off a busy street and on a large parcel of land.

WEB Interior

The WEB was initially designed as an insurance office building. The interior is quite elaborate and includes: 1) impressive entries on both floors; 2) elevator; 3) cafeteria; 4) 4,000-square-foot attractive conference/entertainment room (for dancing and recitals); 5) wide staircase and halls with murals — a word/photo history of Lake Oswego; 6) massive commercial grade thermal pane windows, some two story in size; and 7) detail finish work.

Financial

The current city council voted to sell the WEB. A letter from five neighborhood associations dated Oct. 3, 2013, stated: “It is our hope that together you (city council) and our community can achieve consensus on a strategy addressing all our community capital needs by next spring and through this effort, a future roadmap will be adopted including the use and financing (or sale) of the WEB property.”There has been only one bidder, $16.5 million. That is by a firm strongly tied to hotels. Lake Oswego still owes $17.5 million. As the economy has begun to bounce back, it would seem prudent to hold off on a hasty decision and a) develop a longer-range financial plan — financial plans on major capital improvements amortize to 50 years; b) credit the present WEB usage with the savings; the previous council proposed a new library at $12 million and c) leave a legacy for future generations like prior generations did for us.

Ed Gehring, Lake Oswego, is a planning/design engineer for PNW Power System.

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