By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Keizer’s city council meeting quickly turned tense on Monday, with councilmen present, soon-to-be-past and likely future sniping at one another and members of the public.
An agenda item regarding naming the boat ramp at Keizer Rapids Park was ultimately sent to the Parks Advisory Board for further action, but at least one person was convinced the fix was in.
Rick Hammerquist said the city council appeared to be headed towards making a “clandestine action” naming the boat ramp for former councilor Richard Walsh without input from the West Keizer Neighborhood Association and the Parks Advisory Board. Hammerquist and the neighborhood association have been a frequent critic of the park and its operations. Walsh was a leading voice in establishing and growing the park.
“Here is an opportunity for the council to show real leadership and rally the community to give input into naming the boat ramp,” Hammerquist said, citing a city ordinance governing how parks are named. “… If the council chooses to go forward without public input, you may further reinforce the perception that the [council] does not care to listen to the average Keizer citizen,” he added.
He stood to leave the testimony table, but Councilor Jim Taylor requested that he stay.
“Where did you hear that it was going to be named for Richard Walsh?” Taylor asked.
“I just read the city agenda packet on Saturday morning, and I just assumed,” Hammerquist replied.
“You just assumed?” Taylor said. “Where would you come up with that?”
“I have no comment,” Hammerquist said.
“That’s amazing,” Taylor replied.
Taylor later admitted to quietly floating Walsh’s name among parks board and council members – and being alarmed when word got out – but said that the evening’s action in any case would only begin the naming process.
Ken LeDuc, unopposed in his council bid for Position 2, then began testifying on an agenda item that would continue the Little League Park Task Force’s lifespan, but quickly got upset at Councilor Brandon Smith, who was typing on his iPad.
“Could I ask that I get the council’s undivided attention?” LeDuc said. “If I’m going to take three minutes of my time away from my family to come testify, could I at least have the respect and the dignity of the attention of your council members?”
Smith said he was typing notes on LeDuc’s testimony, but LeDuc was not impressed.
“We have a recorder that does that,” LeDuc said. “… If you’re typing, you’re not listening.”
Eamon Bishop, who faces two opponents in the council race for Position 3, bristled at Taylor’s earlier remarks when he came to deliver a committee report, asking the mayor why Taylor wasn’t asked to leave the meeting.
“Just your attitude to the last two persons speaking was unacceptable,” Bishop said.
“I guess I took a little offense at being lectured to,” Taylor replied.
In other business the council took these actions:
• Amended the electric and gas utility ordinances to reflect the need for a public hearing prior to adoption.
• Allowed Keizer Soccer Club a fee waiver to use city-owned fields at Claggett Creek Park.
• Re-appointed Jonathan Thompson to the Planning Commission.
• Recommended a liquor license privilege expansion for Mariscos La Sirenita.