Tues, Sept 17, 2019 @ 3:00PM – City Council Meeting

Citizen Comments

Several residents of the Palisades neighborhood planned to speak at the public City Council meeting. We were advised that the City Council was in a quasi-judicial role with respect to the proposal by C800 and our comments could be construed as “ex parte” contact and introduce a procedural flaw in the upcoming Development Review Commission meetings. Hence, we were not allowed to provide citizen comment on this issue. Below are the comments we were prepared to speak on behalf of the residents:

Scott Handley
Palisades resident since 2018

Over Labor Day weekend, myself and only a few select residents received an unsuspecting plain white envelop with a notice to build a 196.5 foot emergency communications tower on top of the Cooks Butte nature park in the heart of a heavily populated residential area. Let’s be honest…this is a telecommunications tower plain and simple!

This proposal violates a sacred agreement between the City and the original Grantors, John and Marjorie Emery, who wished to keep this park in its natural state, in perpetuity, for the people of Lake Oswego. The Emery’s understood there would be a desire to develop this land; they purposely sought to preserve this 40 acre natural park for future generations enjoyment of the abundant wildlife, plant life, and serenity of nature. The Emery’s deeded the park to the City for a small fraction of its true market value; fully understanding its significant future valuation. In return, the City agreed to preserve its natural habitat and never develop this land. This proposal to build a telecommunications tower violates that agreement with the Emery’s, and, the promise to the citizens of Lake Oswego…a community that values its open spaces and parks and continues to invest and preserve them. 

Being a new resident, I was shocked to learn this is the 3rd attempt by the City in 25 years to break their obligation at Cooks Butte:

  • In 1994, the City and GTE attempted to construct a cellular tower in this park. The community was outraged and Marjorie Emery had to submit an affidavit reiterating the intended use of this land and that a telecommunications tower would violate the agreement. 
  • Again in 2002, the City and Clackmas 800 Radio Group (C800) attempted to construct a taller telecommunications tower. Once again, the community was outraged and the Emery family reiterated once again that telecommunications towers were not compatible with the intended use then nor in the future.
  • Now it’s 2019! We, the citizens, are outraged! The City has been disingenuous and not forthcoming about their true intentions for Cooks Butte. The City and C800 have been working on this proposal (at Cooks Butte) since at least 2015.

The City, knowing its citizens would disapprove of a telecommunications tower at Cooks Butte, failed to conduct their own community involvement meeting, like that at Mountain Park. While the City and C800 have had 4+ years to work on this proposal, we are just only getting notice about it before a very important submission to the Development Review Commission. Whether or not C800 followed proper city procedure and timelines, they followed the bare minimum requirements to try and slip this proposal through quietly — simply wrong!

Let’s be clear. The citizens of Lake Oswego fully support our first responders’ need for good emergency communications, that is not the debate. However, Cooks Butte is not the correct location for any telecommunications tower — ever. We do not need to sacrifice this natural park.

In the last year, I have found the Lake Oswego community to be friendly, generous, have long memories, and stands up for what is right. We reject proposals to develop Cooks Butte and place towers on it — past, present, and future. We are mobilized and will not rest until Cooks Butte is once and for all protected from these assaults. 

I implore you to stop this continued assault on this pristine natural park in our beautiful City. Be honorable and uphold the promise made to John and Marjorie Emery in 1975. Show that the City of Lake Oswego is a trustworthy partner and good steward of remarkable gifts bestowed upon it.

Thank you.

Michael Gershon
Palisades resident

Usually, I’d take the time to introduce myself right about now…. But this speech isn’t about me (by the way, my name’s Mike ;).  

This speech isn’t about me because this entire conversation is, or should be, about John and Majorie Emory. In 1975, for a nominal fee, the Emorys gifted all us Lake Oswego citizens 42 full acres to be maintained as a nature preserve.  

44 years ago, the Emorys reached an agreement with our City under one important stipulation: this land, our land, shall never be used for commercial use.

The Emory’s wanted the community to enjoy nature at Cooks’ Butte.

But the City had alternative motives:

In 1994, the city tried to build a Tower in Cooks Butte Nature Preserve, and the citizens of Lake Oswego rejected this action!

In 2002 the city tried to build a Tower in Cooks’ Butte Nature Preserve, and the citizens of Lake Oswego rejected this action!

It is now 2019!  For a THIRD time, the City of Lake Oswego is trying to build a Tower in Cooks Butte Nature Preserve.  I know, and I have seen, without a doubt, US CITIZENS OF LAKE OSWEGO, have the POWER to reject this action!

Please join me, the citizens, the community, and the legacy of John and Majorie Emory in the fight to save this nature preserve for generations to come.

Debbie Wilkins
Palisades resident

Good Afternoon. My name is Debbie Wilkins and I am speaking today on behalf of my husband Mike Wilkins and myself. We’ve been residents of this Community for over thirty years. During those years, we served in leadership roles in our schools, active volunteers in our Community and have literally voted in favor of every fire, police, parks and school bond measures.

Unfortunately, our trust in our City officials has been shaken by yet another application to place a tower in the Cooks Butte nature preserve. A nature preserve that was deeded to the City by the Emery family whose sole purpose was to keep it in its natural state and free from any commercial construction, use or benefit. There is a boulder located in the meadow inscribed with the words “Much of the land for this park was a gift to the local community by two people who lived next to it for 48 years. They wished this forest and meadow to remain forever wild. A meeting place for human and non-human. A place to reenter the world beyond our human habits”.

This tower is being presented to the Community as an emergency communications tower. I think it is important to point out what is really being proposed. These are Statements made in the Pre-application Conference Notes:

  • “The applicant is requesting approval for a new communications tower in a Parks & Natural Area zone.”
  • “The tower is classified as a major development.”
  • “An emergency communications tower is the same as a ‘telecommunications tower’.”

The Application then proceeds to refer to this tower as a telecommunications tower throughout thenext 15 pages. If there is any doubt about the real purposes of the Tower it is stated on Page 4:

  • “There is the likelihood of future collocation requests for commercial telecommunications on the tower.”
  • “The tower pad shall be sited in a location that permits additional expansion to accommodate future collocated ancillary facilities.”

This collocation of a commercial enterprise clause is precisely why the tower was rejected in 1994 and again in 2002 and now again in 2019. Why is the City of Lake Oswego continuing to follow this course despite the opposition of its citizens? I invite you to hike the trails in Cooks Butte, sit on the bench in the meadow and enjoy the views from the top of the Butte. Then imagine turning to see a 180’ Telecommunications Tower in the middle of this beautiful Nature Preserve. Is this what the City wants?

Is this what the people of our Community wants? Is this what Mr. & Mrs. Emery gifted to the City?

Why are we still fighting the same battle? Please do not betray the Gift entrusted to the City. Stop this process now.

Thank you.