April is Keep America Beautiful month which makes it a perfect time to reflect on some of the ways our city keeps Lake Oswego Beautiful all year-round.
FOCUS ON PUBLIC ART. You don’t need to spend much time in Lake Oswego before realizing the importance the city places on public art. This is accomplished through a variety of means including development code standards that encourage the integration of art into building and site design, the Percent for Art program that designates that a percentage of the total cost of city projects be set aside for public art and the works of the Arts Council of Lake Oswego, most visibly the Gallery Without Walls. In explaining its rationale for the City Percent for Art Program, the City listed some of public art’s benefits as instilling beauty and good design and creating a sense of place. Spend a summer morning in Millennium Plaza Park or stroll through Foothills Park and you’ll get an idea of what city leaders meant.
TREE CODE. City leaders have taken their responsibility to preserve the wooded character of Lake Oswego seriously by maintaining a tree board (the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Advisory Board), establishing and enforcing a tree ordinance which includes the preservation of trees designated as Historic, allotting for a minimum $42 per capita expenditure for tree planting and maintenance, and annually celebrating Arbor Day. These efforts earned Lake Oswego the designation as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation over 30 years ago.
VILLAGE BASKETS. For six months out of every year, the Lake Oswego Village flower baskets grace our main streets and give us one more reason to love Lake Oswego. This program is a testament to what volunteer time and donations can accomplish. Come mid-May, volunteers hit the streets of Lake Oswego in the wee hours of the morning to hang baskets that will be exploding with color over the summer months. The cost of materials and maintenance is entirely covered by contributions. It’s little surprise that Lake Oswego won the prestigious “America in Bloom” award in 2003.
THE LAKE OSWEGO DEVELOPMENT AGENCY. With all that happens at Millennium Plaza Park, it’s hard to imagine it not being there. But until 1999 it didn’t. Thanks to the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency formed twenty years earlier in 1979, the City had a vision and a plan for managing urban renewal activities. By using tax increment financing and other public financing programs, LORA has been the driving force behind such city beautification projects such as Sundeleaf Plaza, Lake View Village, Headlee Walkway and the Boones Ferry Road Improvement Project. While many of the LORA projects result in other benefits like increased economic vitality, they also add to the beauty that is one of our city’s greatest assets.
SUSTAINABILITY. Not everything that goes into making a city beautiful can be seen. Some of it is in the background, ensuring that the environment in which a city’s citizens live and work is cared for and tended to. That was the thinking behind the city’s ban on single-use plastic bags that went into effect before the state-wide ban. It also explains the city’s efforts to educate the public on how to become better stewards of the place where we live by offering tips on ways to reduce our use of plastic both on their website and in public presentations, and through the selection of this year’s Lake Oswego Reads book, Rising by Elizabeth Rush, with its focus on the effects of climate change.
CITY BEAUTIFICATION MAINTENANCE PROJECTS. Drive around Lake Oswego and one of the things you’ll notice is the seasonal changing displays planted in street medians. From daffodils in spring to sunflowers in summer to Black-Eyed Susan’s in the fall, our city maintenance staff take pride in their work which gives us pride in our city.
STREET SWEEPERS. The Public Works Department also is responsible for keeping our city streets clean and free from debris. As a rule, the downtown/commercial areas of the City are swept every other week. Arterials and collectors are swept at least 12 times per year. Curbed residential areas are swept as time allows and debris dictates — generally four to six times a year and more often during the fall and winter to remove leaves and debris. And in keeping with the small-town charm that is Lake Oswego, the city-sponsored a contest to name our sweepers a few years ago and the winning names were: Oscar, Roovis and Bert. There is a new street sweeper in town and the City is running a contest right now to name the new addition. Entries must be in by April 30. The new kid on the block will join the others as they travel over 4,000 miles a year in their mission to keep Lake Oswego streets clean and our water clean from debris.
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