By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
In a nutshell: Bob Newton Family Park (formerly Wilark Park) is a mid-sized community park in the Gubser neighborhood. Lots for kids to do, including a modern big toy, swings, a tennis court, basketball hoops for half and full-court play, and a nice, shaded area with several picnic tables along a seasonal drainage channel.
Time visited: 11:30 a.m. on a Friday
Size: 8.4 acres.
Who was there: A grandmother and her grandson were enjoying the big toy, and while we were there a company arrived to clean the portable toilet.
Where is it: It’s in the Gubser neighborhood, with access from 14th Avenue and Trail Avenue. Also some parking on a dead end street off of 14th. Gravel road allows vehicle access to a small parking lot on the park’s north side.
Mowing level: Very good. Weeds were few and far between and the grass was lush and green – but not high.
What’s there: The park’s main attractions are likely a fancy big toy (donated by Keizer Rotary Club) and a single tennis court. The tennis court is in decent shape; we saw no cracks in the pavement, and the net itself is in good shape.
Also on the court are three basketball hoops; two on one side of the court and one on the other. The hoops are set up to allow half-court or full-court basketball, but could get dicey if someone wanted to play tennis at the same time.
The aforementioned big toy is modern and in good shape. Plus it has one of those modern versions of the can-and-string where you talk into a cone, and it’s connected with a tube so the person on the other end can hear it. Playground is wood-chipped and has swingsets suitable for small and big kids alike.
There are two covered picnic tables and six in total; four are placed along the seasonal drainage ditch, with large trees providing a cool, shady canopy. There’s also a grill on site. It’s a nifty, peaceful contrast to all the recreational opportunities just to the north.
In addition, a wooden pedestrian bridge allows visitors to walk over to the south side of the park, which is an open field.
A single portable toilet, with ADA accessibility, sits between the tennis court and the playground.
The park is bordered on all sides by private homes; all are fenced off but some offer more privacy than others.
Parking: Access from 14th Avenue and Manzanita Avenue via gravel road that leads to small parking area (only room for six to eight cars.) Also some parking on a dead end street off of 14th.
Park history: The land was donated in two parcels in June 1961 and July 1965 by Kenneth and Anna Neilson. Park was conveyed to the City of Keizer in 1983, and renamed Bob Newton Family Park in 2007 in honor of Keizer’s former mayor, who had died the previous year.
Master Plan calls for: Updating sport courts, improving visibility of park access; possibility of linking with larger bikeway network.
Thoughts from city staff: “Overall it’s in fairly good shape and other than being able to reserve the shelter that Keizer Rotary installed and the funding to properly maintain the trees, I would say this park is fairly well developed. I believe its main strength lies in its diversity of available activities, i.e. ball field areas, tennis, play structure, open space, picnic areas etc. It offers shade and space and is one of our most requested parks for reservation, even though we do not currently reserve this park.” – Terry Witham, parks supervisor.