Good Evening Chairperson Molatore,
cc: WLWV School Board and LRPC, West Linn City Council
My name is Dean Suhr. I am a West Linn resident and – full disclosure – my Miles Drive home of the past 26 years backs to Oppenlander Fields. I am in receipt of yesterday’s public notice (dated 5/25) announcing the School District’s listing of the Oppenlander Fields property for sale.
Over the last 24 hours, there has been tremendous community interest in the sale of Oppenlander. Two consistent themes and questions are … Is this a done deal? And the answer is we don’t know because this is so sudden and on a fast schedule. The second question … How can we preserve the Oppenlander as a community resource that can continue to positively impact our children and the families of West Linn?
Hundreds of families have historically used Oppenlander each week, and starting 2-3 weeks ago, we are seeing dozens and dozens of (hopefully vaccinated) families returning to the fields for practices and games. The kids are learning, growing, laughing, cheering, and building physical, emotional, team and interpersonal skills.
We know you are in the “business” of growing and equipping children, but we also realize that the School District proactively acquires property, much of which ends up being used years later, with some becoming excess property. I found some documentation that shows Oppenlander was acquired in 1973 for $40,000, and I suspect it is worth somewhere in the range of two orders of magnitude more today. So while not an intentional investment, it has done extraordinarily well and we appreciate the District’s desire to sell.
We are also aware that there have been Executive Session discussions between WLWVSD and the City of West Linn about the City potentially acquiring the property. We appreciate the first offer being made to the City, thank you. For an as yet undisclosed reason, the City did not take WLWVSD up on their offer.
We know Oppenlander Fields was most recently publicly discussed in October 2020 by the Long Range Planning Committee, but there is nothing in the notes from that meeting or any subsequent LRPC meeting stating a recommendation to sell. Nor could I find any mention of Oppenlander, or for that matter any feedback on any of the LRPC’s October meeting in any subsequent School Board minutes. We understand that discussing real property transactions may be undertaken in executive session under ORS 192.660.2e. It seems that authorizing sale of such a significant asset would require some sort of public discussion and advance disclosure.
Since SaveOppenlander.org went live at noon today 500 families have signed a petition with a simple request of the School district … pause for 60 days to allow the public to weigh in before the School District acts on any offers. Our goal is to collaborate on a plan of action that meets the financial goals of the School District while substantially preserving Oppenlander in its current form of use.
It seems the School District might be anxious to accept offers quickly to move this transaction into the done deal category … we are asking for an an immediate freeze on accepting offers.
Some 10 years ago I was able to navigate a similar situation with the community and the property owner when the LDS church was built on Rosemont just east of Oppenlander. The outcome and ultimately the process went much better than anyone anticipated. In the future I’d like to look back on Oppenlander and know there was a similar collaborative result.
I would be pleased to discuss this further in person or via phone if that is more efficient..
21345 Miles Drive
West Linn, OR 97068
<email and phone redacted … please email to Dean@SaveOppenlander.org>