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In a divided 5-2 vote, the Keizer City Council Tuesday approved spending $19,000 in park improvement funds for improvements at the dog park at Keizer Rapids Park.

The improvements will include adding an underground irrigation system inside the fenced dog park as well as turf improvements and decomposed granite near the main entrance.

The vote came on the heels of a recommendation by the city staff and unanimous approval from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Councilors Cathy Clark and Dave McKane voted no on the final vote, each citing concerns about long-term maintenance of the dog park.  The dog park has come under criticism recently for its lack of water for irrigation, patches of dirt and dust; the improvements are to address those issues.

Clark said she was getting hung up on the materials.

“Grass is high maintenance,” she said.  “The grassy part of the park would the more expensive part of the park to maintain.”She asked Public Works Director Rob Kissler what other cities have done to sustain a dog park at a lower cost.

Kissler reported that decomposed granite that would alleviate some of the wear on park would be used around the heavily trod main entrance.  He said that grass and granite is the way to go for the dog park.  “If you want a high quality dog park, it needs grass irrigation.  You want a mix of grass seeds because it’s tougher and responds to water better.”

McKane said the project proposal presented to the Parks Advisory Board last month was “very detailed.”  He said he was not against the project but was uncomfortable also about the future maintenance.  “I need a little more on these bones to make a decision,” he said about the plan.  “I don’t know what we’re going to do with the project.”

Walsh, who voted for the funding, said the dog park was a “tremendous asset.”

“We make a $19,000 investment to save a $42,000 park,” said Walsh.

He also said that users of the dog park could be mobilized to help maintain it.  “There’s a better chance to get volunteers to help maintain the dog park than other city parks,” said Walsh.

Councilor McKane said that would solve the problem for  him.  “If a group of people came forward and said we’ll help maintain it, but I haven’t seen them yet,” he said.

The project will call for parts of the dog park to be closed while the underground irrigation system is installed.  The balance of the projects costs are expected to come from donations and volunteers.

In other business the council:

•  Passed an ordinance relating to the abatement of nuisances created by solid waste and inoperable vehicles.

•  Passed an ordinance amending Keizer Development Code regarding junk and junkyards.

• Authorized city manager Chris Eppley to enter an agreement with Portland General Electric for street lighting along Wheatland Road from River Road N. to the northern city limits.  In its process to improve safety along major traffic corridors, new street lights will be mounted on existing PGE power poles.

• Authorized the city manager to sign the first amendment to the Keizer Rotary Amphitheatre management agreement with KRA, LLC, that would add more concerts this season.

• Extended the gas and electric utility license use ordinances to January 31.

The next council meeting is Monday, Sept. 20.