There is more than $600,000 in the Keizer park improvement fund gathered from system developmen charges.  The city says most of that money, if not all, is earmarked for the proposed boat ramp at Keizer Rapids Park.

The city money is being hoarded to serve as matching funds from the state of Oregon.  Fat chance.  With the state eyeing a $2 billion budget shortfall it will be hard for the state legislature to tell students they can’t get new books because Keizer wants a boat ramp in their gem of a park.

At any time a boat ramp would be a luxury (want to have versus need to have) item.  In these days when every government’s budget is stretched tight as a drum, it doesn’t make sense to hold back money that is already in the bank for a feel good project.

Much like Keizer Station, Keizer Rapids Park is a work in progress.  It will take a number of years for all the amenities to come to fruition:  boat ramp, BMX bicycle course, professional tennis courts and a recreation center.

These amenities are said by some to boost economic development in Keizer, by bringing visitors to our city.  That is a good goal, but we need to prove we can attract visitors here first and then get those visitors to spend money in our local businesses.

Money in the park improvement fund can be used now for instant gratification.  The approval of $19,000 to help improve the dog park is a start, but that is less than half of what advocates say the improvements (underground irrigation, turf and decomposed granite) needs.  The city will rely on dedicated volunteers to complete the project with their sweat and donations.

A boat ramp will be nice addition to Keizer Rapids Park but once again the city is considering building something without the attendant costs after the fact.  Once a ramp is built it will be Keizer’s to maintain.  With tight city budgets projected into the future, where would the funds come from?

Keizer could be waiting a long time for state grants to become available.  It would be better to use the park improvement funds now on parks that need it and that will garner the economic development sought by promoting our parks to sports groups and tournaments.

Spending money that is set aside on something we have in hand is a better plan than letting it sit while we hope the state’s budget affords grants to once again start flowing.

—LAZ