By JANE MULHOLLAND

Over the past several weeks, I have had the pleasure of going door to door in neighborhoods throughout Keizer, having face-to-face conversations with the people who live in our city.

I have had the opportunity to see firsthand how much our Keizer citizens care about our city, care about the way decisions are made, care about the kind of place they want to raise their children, care about the livability of our neighborhoods and the future of our community.

I am spending my evenings and weekends walking the streets of Keizer in order to gather signatures to put an initiative on the ballot in March.  The initiative states that stores over 65,000 square feet must be built in Keizer Station, Area A, where the other big box stores such as Target and Lowes already sit.  Area A is the right place for large retail for several reasons:  the streets were designed to handle the traffic generated from intensive retail activity; vacant storefronts abound; and large sections of land remain uncommitted and undeveloped.

Mayor Lore Christopher has disputed the fact that space exists in Area A to accommodate another large store.  She points to the plan for a hotel, restaurants (when will we see a restaurant without a drive through window?), or other structures (I remember much excitement about a movie theatre that seems to have gone by the wayside).

The truth is a plan is just a plan.  As Keizer citizens discovered two and a half years ago during the fight for Area C (the area on Chemawa Rd. NE between Lockhaven, McLeod and Ridge Rd.), a plan can be changed.  A plan can be changed by the City Council adopting a text amendment that wipes out the original design for an area from small, pedestrian friendly development to a big box store of 135,000 sq. ft.   A plan can also be changed by the people of Keizer passing an initiative such as we plan to do in March.

This initiative is not anti-big box stores.  It does not prevent large retailers from coming into Keizer.  It simply requires they be built in an area designed to handle all the impacts.  It promotes development that supports rather than detracts from the quality of our neighborhoods.

Over the next four weeks you will see me and many others continuing to walk the streets of Keizer.   We are a cross section of the residents of Keizer:  young people engaging in their first experiences with participatory government; retired citizens who have spent their lives working and living in Keizer; people raising their families; everything in between.  What do we have in common?  We all want to give the citizens of Keizer their voice, give them the opportunity to make this decision that will have a lasting impact on our community. We all want to keep Keizer livable for our children and future generations.

For more information on the initiative, to sign a petition, or to get involved, contact us at keepkeizerlivable.org or stop by our office at 5075 River Rd N. Tuesdays and Thursdays 5 – 7 pm or Saturdays 2 – 5 pm.

I look forward to my conversation with you when I knock on your door soon.

Jane Mulholland lives in Keizer.