Month: July 2011

TOURISM: Worth the investment?

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes Anywhere between $30,000 and $500,000 could be used to build a visitors center near Interstate 5 in Keizer. The move comes as some city leaders see a potential economic boost in not only recruiting events like the recently-concluded Good Vibrations festival, but as an everyday place to stay where travelers can easily drive to nearby destinations. But can Keizer be a viable tourist hotspot? And is building a visitors center a wise use of public dollars? The questions come as one process reaches its conclusion and another is just beginning. A city-sponsored task force recommended investing in a festival site near Interstate 5, and the Keizer Urban Renewal Agency will soon decide whether – and how much – urban renewal money should fund a visitors center, also near the interstate. A quick tour of current offerings offer few indicators that Keizer has the tourist-oriented business community or infrastructure to handle a massive influx of visitors. We have our fair share of bars, but the number of family-friendly establishments serving food that doesn’t come in a bag fall short of the double-digit mark. We’ve got a lake, but it’s private: Signs threaten arrest if you fish there. Our hotel is well-reviewed, but there’s only one. And the city’s Events and Festivals Task Force learned local ordinances prohibit any sort of entertainment in local parks...

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City, developer respond to appeal

Reporter’s Notebook is a new feature in the Keizertimes. Here our writers and editors will offer a glimpse behind the headlines to stories and issues bubbling just below the surface. Attorneys opposing Keep Keizer Livable’s appeal of a possible Walmart store say the city has no obligation to require that adjoining mixed use buildings be completed before the discount grocer opens its doors. The response was filed jointly by the City of Keizer and E-Village LLC, the development firm proposing the big box grocer along with medical offices and a mixed use retail and office building. The appeal was filed to the Land Use Board of Appeals in June by Keep Keizer Livable, a neighborhood group opposing the project. The appeal, penned by attorney Ken Helm, states the city failed to guarantee required accompanying mixed use buildings would actually get built. When the Keizer City Council opted to change its development code to allow retail stores larger than 10,000 square feet it set size limits that would trigger requirements that the developer build mixed use structures around the large retail store. In the responding brief, attorneys Zachary Dablow of Salem and Shannon Johnson of the city of Keizer assert merely starting construction satisfies Keizer’s code. “Under Keizer’s interpretation of the code, once both components of the development have concurrently begun construction, they are deemed to have been constructed concurrently...

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Citizens, it’s your turn

The city of Keizer is to be commended for reaching out and listening to citizens. The next in a series of Town Hall meetings will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 30 at the civic center. The city has done its part by holding the meetings; the public should now fulfill its roles: attend and ask questions they have. Some may think that a summer Saturday morning is not a great time for a Town Hall meeting.  Democracy and government go on regardless of the calendar or the weather.  The city has committed to holding Town Hall meetings monthly. Though towns in our part of the country don’t have a tradition of  Town Hall meetings, it is a viable way for citizens to step up to the microphone and state what’s on their minds.  We would hope that households throughout Keizer see this as an opportunity to informally discuss issues with the city. The Town Halls held earlier this year, which was well attended, was  focused on public safety and funding, especially regarding 911 service.  The topic of the two following meetings also were on public safety; the last open mic meeting was sparsely attended. Some people may not attend a meeting that has no main topic, but that would be a mistake.  The topics discussed will be what the people what to talk about.  And there...

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Dog park can be a visitor draw

By JEANNE BOND-ESSER I read Lyndon Zaitz’s’ editorial, “Welcome to Keizer” (Keizertimes, July 8) the evening we returned from a dog event in Abbotsford, B.C. It stated, in part, “Aside from the various events and festivals here in town, there are very few reasons for tourists to make Keizer their destination. We can offer a dog park but it is doubtful that an interstate traveler will drive five miles out of their way just to walk their dog when it can just as easily be done at a rest stop. And of course there is the fact that travelers along the freeway have no way to know the dog park is there. The dog park is a lovely amenity for local residents, but not so much as a tourist draw.” It got me thinking that while the dog park is not a tourist draw now, it doesn’t necessarily have to stay that way. “No way to know the dog park is here.” True enough now.  But on our way back from British Columbia, we noticed an “official” blue highway tourism sign along I-5 in Washington: Off-leash dog park. Why can’t there be similar ones at the Keizer exits? “Doubtful that an Interstate traveler will drive five miles out of their way.” Ah, Lyndon Zaitz, you obviously haven’t ridden hundreds of miles with a working retriever used to running! We...

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Fighting to protect new financial bureau

By ROLAND S. MARTIN While President Barack Obama battles with Republicans and Democrats over raising the debt ceiling, Americans should be preparing themselves to take on the special interests and the members of Congress who carry their water in their effort to scuttle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Republicans already won phase one of their flat-out opposition to the CFPB by forcing the White House not to appoint Elizabeth Warren as the head of the agency. She came up with the idea for the bureau and was a natural to lead it. But the GOP, as well as a number of Democrats close to Wall Street, saw her as the devil incarnate and made clear that any effort to put her in the job would face stiff resistance. I’ve interviewed her several times.  She’s the kind of official we need in Washington, someone who cares more about what is right than she does pleasing the folks with deep pockets. The CFPB is all about simplifying the dizzying policies related to mortgages, investigating credit scoring and keeping an eye on the financial institutions that led the way in the near collapse of our economic system. These fat cats, along with the congressional mouthpieces they liberally ply with campaign cash, don’t want to see the paperwork reduced, aren’t really happy with total transparency in financial dealings and surely aren’t excited...

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