Before the city council or the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board get too far ahead of their constituents, it should ascertain whether the city’s residents want something different than what their local city parks currently offer.

One of the issues the Parks Board wants to tackle is a long-term, stable funding source for the city’s 18 parks. At the last city council meeting the councilors brought the axe down on any plans the board had to talk to the public about what funding sources they’d support. The councilors feel that the board’s hands are full enough with the Keizer Rapids Park Playground Project (KRP3).

Establishing a stable funding base is laudable, yet it would behoove the city and the council to first discover if there is a public desire for more than what is available now. Parks improve and enhance a city’s quality of life, that’s a given. It’s also a given that Keizer has parks ranging from postage stamp lots to the big one at Keizer Rapids.

Each year Keizer’s general fund allocates a small percentage of the total to the city’s parks—some years it is more than others, depending on revenues. Maintenance projects may be postponed, regular operations can take a hit.  No Keizer park  has a regular, plumbed restroom with multiple stalls, sinks, changing stations. Few of our parks have benches or water fountains.  All that might make a city official declare that Keizer parks are underfunded and they’re in trouble. But that would be a response without clear question.

Talk about long-term funding for our parks is all academic until the city goes out into the community and asks citizens if their local park needs anything.  And that’s the question to ask; if you ask a person a multiple choice  question odds are good they will feel obligated to choose one of the options. But if they are simply asked if their local park needs anything, the response will better reflect the actual desires.

Any discussions about parks funding other than its current source from the general fund is a wasted effort until or unless the public says it wants more than what it has.