Day: October 7, 2011

Developer’s debt may cost millions

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes A Keizer Station developer’s debt could end the city’s current urban improvement efforts and impact fire districts, libraries and other taxing entities, city staff warned this week. An October 10 Keizer City Council work session has been set to discuss the city’s options, including extending the life of the Keizer Urban Renewal District. The city would need written permission from at least 75 percent of the other taxing districts to extend the urban renewal district’s lifespan. Developer Chuck Sides is more than a year behind on local improvement district payments, with past due payments totaling about $858,246 on land he owns or leases at the shopping development. The meeting starts at 5:45 p.m. at the Keizer Civic Center. Sides told the Keizertimes he hopes to have the debt resolved by then. “We’ve been working with (the city),” Sides said. “We understand it’s our debt.” Local improvement districts are a government-backed way for property owners to build public improvements like street, water and sewer service. The city agreed to support Keizer Station developing firm Northwest National LLC with $26.8 million in taxpayer-backed bonds. The city collects payments from the benefiting landowners every six months; installments include portions for principal and interest. While bondholders get regularly-paid interest installments, the principal is not due until a giant balloon payment in 2031. The city has yet to...

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Play, sit at Country Glen

In a nutshell: Country Glen Park serves not only the Clear Lake area of north Keizer, but connects with the Gubser and Hidden Creek areas via an paved path and pedestrian bridge. Time visited: 3 p.m. on a Thursday. Size: 5.9 acres Who was there: A couple of walkers and a group of kids. Where it is: Bordered by Labish Creek on the south side, it’s accessible via Parkside Court NE and pedestrian paths from Lazy Creek Drive NE and 14th Avenue NE in Gubser. [MAP; 14] Mowing level: Good. Very recently mowed, few weeds and grass has survived summer thanks to irrigation. What’s there: Everything a family could want is just within a few steps. The big toy includes several fun slides along with poles to climb and those tubes where you talk to each other ala the old cans-on-a-string. Is in mostly excellent shape. For grownups, the star of this park is the paved pathway that runs through the park’s south end along Labish Creek. It connects to both the Gubser area and to Lazy Creek Drive. There’s also a water fountain and portable toilet, both of which were in good operating order. Two covered picnic tables are right by the big toy. The field nearby is cleared of trees, meaning it’s great for any loosely-organized sport played on grass. If you want a little peace and...

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Here a garden, there a garden

We applaud the efforts of residents of Harcourt Avenue to create a neighborhood garden.  It’s a neat idea but as it was pointed out at Monday’s city council meeting there are some glitches. The main glitch is the fact that the proposed site is in a public right-of-way.  The city attorney has been instructed by the city council to establish if such a garden is even legal in a right-of-way. The other glitch is that not all the neighboring homeowners are aboard with the plan, citing the potential of increased crime that a public garden might attract.  That notion was pooh-poohed by Police Chief Marc Adams, but the concerns of neighbors can not be discounted. A community garden established on a public right-of-way at Harcourt Avenue would open the door for other parts of the city to seek the same privilege. That’s a genie that could not be put back into the bottle once it’s let out. It’s important that neighbors get to know each other.  A community garden is not the only avenue; residents who desire an increase in communication amongst themselves can establish a Neighborhood Watch.  That would certainly allay fears of crime if they all watch out for each other. In this space we have called for the city to offer plots for community gardens in city parks.  The precedent was set when a garden was...

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They can’t do it alone

Salem-Keizer Schools has announced that it must find another $20 million in cuts from next year’s budget. The schools we send our kids too have taken a beating this year due to cuts.  Some decry the fact that swimming is a threatened sport; other programs will probably be on the chopping block soon. Budgets for government ententies are complex and are confusing to the public.  Revenue comes from various sources, of course taxes, but also grants that come with strings attached.  Mandates for schools from the federal government are not a suggestion, they are required to be funded.  Many of the federal mandates are designed to assure that children get an education.  Those education mandates require that they be administered by the school district which takes a hunk of money away from the classroom and the schools. Classroom sizes are increasing, teachers are under-supplied, school libraries are closing.  In today’s climate the schools and its staff can’t do it all alone.  If we want to assure our children get a quality education we all must do what we can to help. For example, critical high school counselor positions have been cut throughout the district.  Students rely on those counselors for advice and information on everything from career guidance, scholarships and surviving daily life in school. Counselors can’t possibly aid all the students who need it.  That’s where mentors from...

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Training begets good leadership

By CATHY CLARK and BRANDON SMITH We attended the recent League of Oregon Cities conference.  The topics chosen for this year’s gathering were very relevant for Keizer. Joining with city officials from around the state, we had the chance to visit with leaders who have great ideas to share. Keynote speaker, Dr. Sheila Sheinberg, also an instructor for the Chinook Institute, used the compelling story of Moses to illustrate the challenges of leadership. Recognizing anomalies as signals for impending change, she encouraged all of us to find the opportunities and possibilities those changes offer. Dr. Rick Kirschner’s keynote address on The Art of Change was insightful, particularly the discussion of how we move out of the realm of assumptions which  create unnecessary stress, and engage in constructive feedback focused on the issue. He offered a case study on the Ashland City Council, which at the time was experiencing a period of turmoil.  He walked the audience through the process of dealing with internal conflict, disrespectful meetings and unfinished business. There was a workshop on the top ten Dos and Don’ts of collective bargaining, presented by two experts, Diana Moffat and Steven Schuback. They gave an outline of the convoluted process which has been established through law and litigation. The Social Media and Public Communication workshop was helpful in not only describing the possibilities that Facebook and other media present, but...

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