A Keizer Youth Sports Association player tries to tag out a runner. The future of Keizer Little League Park is up in the air until a new organization picks up the maintenance contract that expires in July. (File Photo)

Of the Keizertimes

A task force will explore how youth baseball at Keizer Little League Park will continue.

The management agreement between the Keizer Youth Sports Association and the city of Keizer, which owns Keizer Little League Park, expires at the end of July. The task force’s goal is twofold: Ensure the games go on next season, and finding a model that’s sustainable over the long term.

Operations for decades have been handled by volunteers through Keizer Little League. That organization split several years ago, with Keizer Youth Sports Association assuming responsibilty for the day-to-day maintenance and improvements.

“The collaborative effort worked for more than a dozen years until KYSA and Little League split,” said City Manager Chris Eppley. “And when that happened things changed … They just can’t get the volunteer base activated like they used to, and that’s what made that model possible.”

City officials were finalizing a request for proposals that KYSA, KLL or anyone else could take a swing at. How much the groups propose relying on taxpayers to subsidize operations – be it simply mowing fields or larger investments – remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the task force will include individuals representing both organizations along with City Councilor Jim Taylor.

“Our mission is to make sure those ballparks are used by the kids of Keizer … and somehow get these groups to do that together and ensure those fields are used as efficiently and often as possible,” Taylor said at last week’s city council meeting.

Eppley said the city may be able to provide some effective economies of scale by performing some maintenance activities. This year’s budget doesn’t include funds for upkeep, which means that any needed money would have to come at the expense of another department or program.

“That may very well include the city having to step up and take on some maintenance responsibilities,” Eppley said. “I think the days of us having an arm’s length relationship with that complex are over.”