By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
If plans for a hospital arrived at city hall, would Keizer have the policy to move forward?
And is there the room for such a project?
Those questions and more were discussed recently during the third Economic Opportunities Analysis task force meeting at Keizer Civic Center. The next meeting is Jan. 10.
Jerry Johnson, principal at Johnson Reid, said medical facilities and sporting events are two key industries moving into the future for Keizer.
“Medical facilities and sporting events jumped out,” Johnson said. “Those are the two we’re focusing specific attention to at this time, to see if there’s something in the inventory to meet those needs.”
Johnson cautioned against focusing on trying to attract warehouse businesses. He feels available land would be better suited for a medical facility.
“If you want to see medical, you have a more defensible piece,” Johnson told a group including city staff, mayor Lore Christopher and city councilors. “Our recommendation is to take the baseline analysis and modify it for medical.”
There was plenty of discussion about the accuracy of long-range projections.
Christopher feels recent job growth in Keizer will continue.
“We can feel reasonably sure we will add a significant job piece with what’s going to be happening,” she said. “Just imagine if we had the land.”
City councilor David McKane noted how much land a hospital would take.
“It will fill up the land we have,” McKane said.
Johnson acknowledged that.
“We will hit the wall,” Johnson said. “You will have to take action to accommodate it.”
Christopher pointed to employment growth in Keizer the last 10 years at 4.9 percent, largely due to Keizer Station.
Nate Brown, Community Development director for Keizer, cautioned what is involved.
“The numbers for Keizer go up and above the baseline,” Brown said. “The number carries with it a price tag. We might want lots of stuff, but it comes with the responsibility to serve it and the infrastructure.”
Christopher was among those wondering just how accurate the baseline numbers are.
“We’re not filled out in Section A (of Keizer Station),” Christopher said. “There’s more to come. I expect to see more things happen in A…I don’t think the baseline is accurate. What we’re looking for is accuracy.”
Johnson pointed out things could change quickly if an organization like Legacy Health Systems showed interest.
“If Legacy comes in and says we’re doing a regional hospital, that’s a game changer,” Johnson said. “Section A was a big whale in the retail sector…If you don’t have the land and Legacy wants to come in, you’ve lost that whale.”