City wants two houses for the lake project

The city of Lake Oswego is angling to buy two houses on McVey Avenue and will demolish both to make way for sewer construction.

Lake Oswego officials are currently negotiating to buy properties at 706 and 716 McVey Avenue, worth a combined $1.8 million.

On Tuesday night, the Lake Oswego City Council gave City Attorney David Powell the power to condemn the properties if negotiations fail.

Condemnation is considered unlikely since both homes are for sale and a sagging real estate market offers few options for sellers.

But the city council decided it could not afford to lose an opportunity to acquire the properties if talks with homeowners break down.

City councilors believe they need at least one other lakefront site for building the Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer. The project replaces an ailing sewer pipe in Oswego Lake with a one-of-kind floating pipeline.

It is the biggest public works project ever undertaken in Lake Oswego and construction will take approximately two years.

Construction was previously planned for the Lake Grove Swim Park but public opposition to that idea forced the city to find another site for the job.

Construction plans have since shifted to the west end of the lake, where some local residents - particularly along the Oswego Lake canals - have been frustrated by what they perceive as an unfair burden.

That could change if Lake Oswego acquires the McVey Avenue properties, which would shift some construction from Allen Road to the east end of the lake. Sewer construction funds would pay for the properties' acquisition.

The city still needs to negotiate access to the lake from the McVey Avenue land because the Lake Oswego Corporation owns the rim of the lake.

Mayor Judie Hammerstad said those negotiations should go smoothly. Deconstruction of the homes and their decks and docks would lower water levels on the lake by a foot in a flood.

The decks and docks are adjacent to an emergency spillway and both block water when lake levels rise. The Lake Oswego Corporation supports their removal.

'We certainly have had contact with the Lake Oswego Corporation and it's been very positive,' said Hammerstad. 'It seems like it really helps both of us solve a problem.'

Hammerstad said the Lake Oswego Corporation may buy both properties when sewer construction ends in January 2012.

How much the properties might be worth by then is unknown.

By that time, both will have lost houses and the remaining lots will lack redevelopment potential because of flood plain regulations, a street setback from McVey Avenue and the likely inability to build docks or decks there in the future.

'While it's very possible we could lose money in this transaction, if things go a certain way there are other values,' said City Councilor Kristin Johnson.

She said being able to use several sites for sewer construction has value, along with the ability to secure other access points to the lake for construction and assuring reduced water levels in floods.

Efforts to contact the property owners by press time Wednesday were unsuccessful.

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