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By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A volunteer-led proposal to irrigate the Keizer Rapids Dog Park got a tentative nod from the Keizer City Council Monday night.

There’s been no final approval yet, but councilors agreed to spend up to $19,000 in parks systems development charges (SDCs) to help implement the plan

The dog park was built largely by donations – including a large one from Keizer Veterinary Clinic – but the condition of the grounds has garnered criticism.

Clint Holland, a parks board member who recently backed the amphitheater project at the same park, spoke before the Keizer City Council along with fellow parks board member Garry Whalen and Dr. Kim Girouard, owner of Keizer Veterinary Clinic. Holland said he wants to get started this year.

The plan calls for irrigating the entire dog park as well as the grassy area in front of the dog park along Chemawa Road. A budget Holland prepared said the project would cost a bit more than $40,000.

The council was generally supportive of the concept, but some questioned how the city would be able to keep the newly-irrigated area mowed. The city has just two permanent employees and three seasonal workers to maintain Keizer’s entire parks system.

Holland himself wanted assurances the area would be well-maintained before committing himself to the project.

“Asking to do something like this, and being able to maintain it, is a different story,” Holland told the council.

Rob Kissler, director of public works, wasn’t yet able to say just how much it would take to keep the dog park mowed with irrigation added.

“We have not budgeted any money for formal operations of an irrigation system and a full-blown system,” Kissler said. “We do not have the funds established in the current budget to maintain this facility.”

Kissler also pointed out that, should city funds be used to hire employees, competitive bidding and prevailing wage requirements would come into play.

Councilor Richard Walsh made an impassioned plea that the council dedicate parks SDC funds to the project.

“These people are willing to take that dollar and turn it into $10,” Walsh said. “I don’t know where it ends up, but I feel like these men deserve a standing ovation … instead of saying, what roadblock can we put in your way?”

Councilor David McKane suggested it was time to form a volunteer group specifically dedicated to the dog park, fearing that without it the city would be in a similar place – namely, inadequate maintenance of the dog park – “in 12, 18 months from now.

“It’s not just about making it; it’s about maintaining it,” McKane said.

City Manager Chris Eppley pledged to maintain any upgrades “to the best extent we can with the resources we have … We don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. We want to take these opportunities to make things happen because honestly that’s what Keizer’s all about.”

In other business:

• Councilors approved changes to the city’s nuisance abatement rules when it comes to solid waste.

The changes were mostly clarification and consolidation – but whatever you do, don’t call it junk.

“We govern the kind of stuff that it is, not whether it’s called junk or not because junk is a pretty subjective term,” said Community Development Director Nate Brown.

One change was that new multi-family residential projects must include recycling receptacles for tenants. Already-built complexes and buildings are not affected by the new rule.

• The Council approved a franchise agreement with Clear Wireless, which provides subscription-based wireless Internet service. The two sides agreed to a minimum payment of $10,000 per year.

Antennas providing the service would be placed on either existing utility poles or ones matching the design, and could not rise more than 25 percent of the pole’s height.

The agreement is non-exclusive, meaning other wireless Internet providers could operate in Keizer.