By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Slowly but steadily, progress is being made with the repurposing of the Charge house at Keizer Rapids Park.
One of the proposed uses for the former caretaker’s house has been an educational center. Rick Day, a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, has championed the idea of replacing the roof and repurposing the building.
Day and Richard Walsh, chair of the Parks Board, have met with leaders from the Friends of Straub Environmental and Learning Center, who have expressed interest in using the building.
During the summer, Day estimated converting the building to an educational center would cost $170,000.
Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer, said at this month’s Parks Board meeting he is waiting to hear back from a consultant but has heard good reports from an architect who looked at the facility.
“We got positive news from the architect,” Lawyer said. “The structure was sound. There was no reason found why (the building) couldn’t be used as proposed.”
Day noted he’s still waiting to hear what septic hook-up and roof replacement would cost.
“The architect started off skeptical, but then became positive,” Day said. “He was onboard with (the idea of) the roof outliving its useful life.”
Noted Lawyer of discussions thus far: “It’s all positive at this point.”
Walsh said people from Straub liked the building, for the most part.
“They are very excited about using it as their facility,” Walsh said. “But the classroom is too small and they need more office space.”
Jim Green and Michelle Cordova from Straub wrote a letter to Walsh in September, highlighting three parts of the project that are appealing.
“The collaboration with multiple community organizations fits well with our mission statement of creating awareness and understanding of our relationship to the environment, working in partnerships with our community,” Green and Cordova wrote. “The location of (KRP) is ideal to house an environmental learning center due to its close proximity to natural settings for classes and field trips. Our recently completed strategic plan includes guidance to expand our programs and reach out to more community members in the Mid-Willamette Valley. Extending our reach into the Keizer area would help us to achieve those goals.”
Day noted he’s had multiple conversations with people from Straub.
“The group is interested in moving forward with it,” Day said of plans.