April 3rd, 2012 | Martin Cizmar News | Posted In: Environment, Activism

Will Oswego Lake Close Tonight?

Lake Oswego City Council may vote to ban public access.

culturefeature.oswegolake_3818I’M ON A BOAT: Everybody look at me ’cause I’m sailing on a boat. - ILLUSTRATION: Kim Scafuro

Oswego Lake may only be open to the public for a few more hours.

Tonight, Lake Oswego's city council will vote tonight on a resolution which would prohibit people from entering the public lake from the city-owned public parks on its shores. If passed, the rule would be effective immediately.

This means an occupation of Oswego Lake, unlike the paddle I took last month, would involve breaking the law. An occupation of the lake had been discussed by online activists, but was ultimately abandoned until "it's sunny."

As previously reported, the lakebed of Oswego Lake, the centerpiece of Oregon's wealthiest city, is owned by a private home owner's association-type group. However, the lake was built by damming the Tualatin River, which the state says is a navigable waterway. This means the lake is open to the public under state law.

Getting from public land to public water, which is mostly surrounded by private property controlled by the Lake Oswego Corporation, is another matter. Right now, it's perfectly legal for the public to access Lake Oswego from a city park. In fact, a set of stairs makes it downright easy for the public to launch a small watercraft.

Those stairs were supposedly not designed to facilitate access, which is the crux of the city's justification for the new resolution. "None of the facilities has been designed or constructed for safe and appropriate water access," it reads. The city also claims that it lacks the resources to upgrade the facilities, that entering the water creates "safety risks" and that the landscaping around the cement walkway would be damaged "if walkway users leave the designated path."

City attorney David Powell did not return phone calls.

 
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