Oregon students whose parents are employed in the Oregon City Schools District, but who live outside the city, will no longer be allowed to participate in the city recreation program after July 31.
The city agreed to enforce the policy late last year, but the recreation advisory board heard complaints about it at a meeting two weeks ago, Mayor Mike Seferian said at a committee of the whole meeting last week.
The recreation advisory board, he added, is not the appropriate body to be reviewing the policy.
“I’m not sure that’s an appropriate agenda for them. This is a policy decision that we currently use. I strongly back the decision that we had come to late last year,” said Seferian. “I believe it would take a legislative act for me to want to change and allow participation from others into the program. Being that it would take a legislative act, I wouldn’t think the recreation board is the proper body to make the decision. There’s a lot of political ramifications in changing the policy. When I suggested to the individual who contacted me about wanting his kids to continue to participate in the program, I said `No.’ “He said, `Does it end right here?’ I said `’No one is that powerful to make a decision and just puts an end to something.’”
Seferian said he suggested the individual contact Councilman Terry Reeves, chairman of the city’s Recreation and Parks Committee.
“He might want to contact Mr. Reeves to see if he would like to host a committee meeting to discuss it. I thought that when the decision was made, it was pretty solid,” said Seferian. “If you decide to hold a committee meeting, and council has a consensus to want to make changes, I’ll respect that.”
“Right now, it’s probably dead in the water,” Reeves said of the possibility of allowing non-resident Oregon students to participate in the recreation program.
“There’s not a consensus among the people on the advisory board to move it forward,” said Reeves. “There was probably not enough in favor of it as of right now to forward it to committee meeting. So at this point…they decided to table it until the next meeting.”
Councilman Jim Seaman said the policy should provide an incentive to Oregon students who live outside the city to move to Oregon.
Reeves, who wants to keep the kids in the program, said after the meeting that “some people can’t afford to move to Oregon.”
“I’m all about kids. I can’t look at a third grader and tell him, `Buddy, you’re done. You can go to school with these kids, but you can’t join playing athletics with your classmates,” said Reeves, an athletic director at Bowsher High School.
“And I understand some of the taxpayers who don’t want to pay extra for people who aren’t residents. But we’re talking about 25-30 kids who may have been playing four to five years in the Oregon recreation program who will no longer be able to participate,” said Reeves. “I just don’t agree with it.
“This is a tough thing,” said Seferian after the meeting. “I realize it sounds harsh. But if we simply say that Oregon recreation activities are available for Oregon residents, that’s not easy, but it’s fair. It’s like going to the YMCA. What about people who aren’t members of the Y who want their kids to swim in the pool or use the racquet ball courts? If you don’t have membership, the Y won’t let you in. The way you become a member for our program, is that you live here. We created the recreation program for Oregon residents, and that’s the way it should be. It’s as simple as that.”