If supporters prevail the former caretakers house at Keizer Rapids Park would be converted into an education center. The house is located on the bluff overlooking the park’s amphitheatre.
Some say the house should be razed and a new structure constructed; others say the existing building can be remodeled.
Adding education to the region’s crown jewel park is a good idea but some are putting the cart way in front of the horse. Certainly there is money that foundations would grant to turn the house into a center of learning about the park’s environs and nature in general. But then what?
What would be in the education center? Photos? Kiosks? Informational signs? If that’s it, it seems like an pretty expensive drop-by classroom. We can only assume that those who are pushing for an education center have already been in contact with Salem-Keizer Schools (which of course does not have the money to staff even a part-time host for an education center).
Who would the city put in charge of leading the development of the center? We can only assume it would be someone with an educational and horticultural background.
A few hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money for a project that has a “Let’s build it!” feel to it without much thought about what happens after such a center is completed.
An education element to the park is a good thing but the city should be smart about how to use the former caretaker’s house. It’s a sizable building; use it as a education center combined with a dressing room (for performers at the Keizer Rotary Amphitheatre) and even for food/beverage concessions.
Supporters want to use Park System Development Charge money for the project. Applying for grants from organizations that are eager to give money for projects with an educational element, there should be enough money to make that building a showcase for everyone to use. And that’s what parks are for, the benefit of the entire community.