Facility would be on Stafford land now in the urban growth boundary

by: VERN UYETAKE - This file photo showed the potential site for a new city-owned indoor tennis center on the edge of Lake Oswego in the Stafford area.Lake Oswego has apparently backed off plans to build a tennis center on property the city pushed to bring into the urban growth boundary for that purpose, although an appeal stemming from the project is no longer an issue.

Attorney Jim Zupancic announced this week he has dropped an appeal he filed with the state after Metro, the regional government for the Portland metro area, approved Lake Oswego’s request to expand the urban growth boundary so it could build a new tennis center across Stafford Road from Luscher Farm.

In a news release issued Monday, Zupancic said it was clear that Metro’s approval doesn’t require Lake Oswego to actually use the property for a tennis facility.

“It’s also clear that the city council intends to leave open the question of how the property is to be used in the future,” he said. “Preserving the right of the public comment for local neighborhood associations, residents and other interested parties concerning how the property should be used is key to open government. We wanted assurances there was no predetermination of use that may circumvent the future public process.”

While the previous process was public, he later added, “I believe the questions ... having to do with environmental impacts and traffic and all of the other development issues were really beyond the scope of what was being discussed before Metro.”

Even though Metro’s approval of the UGB expansion in December didn’t require that the land ultimately house a tennis center, the decision was based on the community’s need for a new facility and its inability to provide one VERN UYETAKE - Jim and Marla Zupancic stand in the main lobby of the Stafford Hills Club, a relatively new private tennis, aquatic and health facility in Tualatin.

But over the past few years, Zupancic was working to develop Stafford Hills Club, a private health and recreation facility that recently opened outside of Lake Oswego in Tualatin. In hearings leading up to Metro’s decision, he said his facility offers seven indoor courts and three more outside, and it’s only about two miles from Lake Oswego’s planned tennis center.

Zupancic contended that the community did have a longstanding need for more tennis courts but that the void “has been filled by the private sector.”

Meanwhile, tennis supporters also packed public hearings to speak in favor of the project.

The city settled on the Stafford Road site after long-running public efforts to find a solution to overwhelming demand for the four courts at the existing municipal tennis center. The indoor tennis center property, next to Springbrook Park, could be sold to help finance the proposed new eight-court building.

The 10-acre property was already within city limits but was outside of the line limiting urban sprawl. It had been traded out of the boundary in 2006 so the city could instead bring in the land where it developed Hazelia Field.

Still, it now appears the public tennis center plans are on hiatus.

Mayor Kent Studebaker noted Monday that the city’s budget committee did not include a new tennis center in its spending plan for the next fiscal year. He said tennis also didn’t rise to the top of community interests in a recent public survey.

At least for now, he said, it’s true that the question remains open about the property’s long-term use.

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