School board holding off on project till it can bring down price, identify funds

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego High School senior Emily Wolfram testifies before the school board and a crowd of at least 175 people at a public hearing Monday.The Lake Oswego School Board Tuesday didn’t approve moving forward with Lakeridge stadium improvements, but it didn’t deep-six the project, either.

The board chose not to approve a project with a $2.4 million price tag, deciding to hold off for six months to explore funding options and to look into less costly designs. The board unanimously approved a Lakeridge community fundraising effort, asking that Pacer supporters bring in at least $500,000 and as much as $2.2 REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego School Board Chairwoman Patti Zebrowski listens as Superintendent Bill Korach presents historical details on school capital improvement projects during a work session prior to a public hearing on Lakeridge stadium improvements Monday.

A public hearing on the issue was held separately on Monday in anticipation of a large crowd, and at least 175 people attended, including what looked like most of the boys lacrosse team. They were dressed in their uniforms, some wearing masks and clasping their lacrosse sticks in gloved hands. The public hearing convened in the Lakeridge High School library instead of at the board’s conference room in the administration building, which likely would not have accommodated the REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego resident Chuck Dunham said during a public hearing Monday that he moved from Seattle to Lake Oswego for the schools 15 years ago. He supported the Lakeridge stadium proposal.

The project includes additional permanent seating and a cover to stave off the Oregon rain. Lake Oswego High School’s stadium is covered, and many people said it is unfair for only one of the school district’s two high schools to have a cover. Lakeridge fans get wet during sports games.

“Let them buy umbrellas,” LOHS sophomore Daniel Vogel said.

Later on, Lake Oswego resident Shon DeVries offered to have LOHS athletics teams play at Lakeridge half the time while Pacers use the Lakers’ field, saying, “Make it fair.”by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Members of the Lakeridge lacrosse team attended the Lakeridge stadium upgrades public hearing in uniform, and a few of the players also spoke, including Holden Catlett, far right.

About 50 people shared their opinion on the stadium, with about half of the testifiers giving their support and half saying it was too much and school repairs should be a priority. Though board chairwoman Patti Zebrowski repeatedly asked attendees not to clap, many people burst into applause after speakers finished, and some spectators heckled speakers.

One of the most contentious moments happened after parents of elementary school children referenced a recently completed real estate study assessing land and building of primary schools and maintenance costs at elementary schools and both junior high schools, which totaled $24.11 million.

Lakeridge lacrosse player Holden Catlett said asking Lakeridge fans to forgo a cover is like asking students at the schools with leaky roofs to dress warmly.

One woman yelled out that her child was only 5 years old.

Other people in the crowd gave shouts of dismay. Another woman called out, “No one interrupted you when you were speaking.”

Board members sometimes spoke after public testimony but mostly stayed quiet after commenting on the issue at a work session before the hearing.

“I’m in complete support of this project,” John Wendland, a board member, said. “The big part of it is: How do we pay for it, and when do we want it to happen? I think we also must have peace and unity in our town. I think that’s a hot button that we touched.”

Board member Bob Barman agreed.

“We all go to the same churches, the same synagogues, the same restaurants, and we all need to stick together,” Barman said.

At the Tuesday meeting, the board discussed funding methods including a construction bond that could go before voters within the next couple years, construction excise tax revenue, donations from Lakeridge supporters and revenue from the sale of school buildings. The real estate study was aimed in part at helping the board determine which elementary school buildings to sell. The board didn’t support using general fund money.

Zebrowksi said rumors that the Lakeridge stadium project was supposed to have been paid for with dollars from the 2000 bond are untrue.

Cost saving design changes could include having a pillared instead of free-standing canopy.

The board put the project out for a re-bid at its April 21 meeting, concerned with the pricetag of the lowest offer that came in when the project first was bid out, $1.85 million and a total project cost of $2.2 million. But the rebid came in higher at $1.96 million for construction and $2.43 total for the project.

The project was slated to be done this summer and includes 600 additional stadium seats, a canopy over the seats and a press box.

An initial estimate came in at $1.25 million and included the same items as the current proposal, plus an additional 400 seats, visitor bleacher foundation and fencing. At $1.8 million the latest formal cost estimate was $400,000 less than the lowest bid, which was higher than the staff’s latest project estimate of $1.5 million.

“I think we have a responsibility to spend the public’s money wisely,” Zebrowski said.
By Jillian Daley
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