The Oregon Supreme Court heard arguments this morning over whether or not Oswego Lake should be open to the public.
The case stems from ongoing efforts to block public access to the public lake in the center of town—efforts that intensified after a WW story in 2012 showed the lake was falsely labeled as "private."
Today's arguments centered on questions of whether the city can make rules about who can and cannot use its land and whether Lake Oswego can keep non-residents out of its swim park.
The Lake Oswego Corporation, which has managed the lake for more than seventy years, says the lake is private property. But the city owns some of the shoreline and operates a swim park that is open to residents in July and August.
The city and the Lake Oswego Corporation currently restrict use of the lake. Mark Kramer and Todd Prager, a swimmer and kayaker who want access to the waters, challenged the rules in court. WW interviewed them last year.
The Supreme Court ruling will have implications for other public waterways in Oregon. If Lake Oswego is allowed to keep non-residents out of the water, other jurisdictions could legally adopt similar rules for rivers, ponds and lakes in other areas of the state.
Arguments for keeping the lake closed included concerns over safety and environmental protection. But Thane Tienson, the lawyer representing Kramer and Prager, said that's unfair and goes against Oregon law.
"It's about the quality of life of all Oregonians," Tienson said in court.