By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
With the new year upon us, now is the perfect time to gaze into the future and see what could be in store for 2014.
Here are five topics we anticipate being hot ones throughout the year.
Political season is upon us
Mayor Lore Christopher has said her current two-year term is her last. If that is indeed the truth, who will run to become Keizer’s first new mayor since Christopher first won the seat back in 2000?
The other question regarding Christopher is if she will indeed step aside or if she’ll change her mind and run again.
The mayoral seat isn’t the only one being contested in 2014. The four-year terms of current Keizer City Council president Joe Egli and former council presidents Cathy Clark and Jim Taylor are also up. Taylor has said he won’t run again. Former councilor Brandon Smith has stated he plans to run for Taylor’s seat.
Play structure highlights progress at KRP
Through September, the Keizer Rapids Park Playground Project (or KRP3) will be highly visible. Community members will be building the large play structure at KRP over a five-day period in September.
Between now and then there will be a number of task force and various committee meetings, in addition to volunteers and funding being sought to help further the project, which is envisioned to be a 10,000 square foot play structure drawing in people from around the region.
While the play structure by itself makes KRP activity big news, there’s more. A decision will likely be made about the former caretaker’s home, which could be a big boost for park activity. There are also various other projects that have been proposed at KRP, include a BMX bike track and a large concert weekend.
More growth on horizon at Keizer Station?
Momentum continued to build at Keizer Station in 2013. Following the opening of Panera Bread in December 2012, Outback Steakhouse opened last July. Outdoor retailer REI has taken over the former Circuit City building and should be opening in the spring. Meanwhile, ground is being broken later this month for a new Kaiser Permanente medical clinic near Panera Bread.
So will that momentum continue in 2014 for Keizer Station? Will more businesses announce plans to open shop there? Or has development maxed out?
Growth elsewhere in Keizer?
Somewhat related to above, there are signs of growth elsewhere in Keizer. Silverton Health’s medical clinic on Inland Shores Way is expected to open next month, while the first homes in the 30-lot Aldine Meadows subdivision along McLeod Lane have recently been started.
More homes are also expected off Windsor Island Road, as a new 54-lot subdivision is being planned, while a new Avamere Court long-term memory facility is under construction behind St. Edward Catholic Church, which is having the final touches put on its new sanctuary.
A study last year showed Keizer needs more housing land over the next 20 years to keep up with expected growth, but at the same time there has been limited population growth the last couple of years.
Infrastructure updates to handle growth
With expansion comes the need for updated infrastructure and that’s indeed the case in Keizer.
Renovation along Chemawa Road from River Road to KRP was expected to be done in 2013, but the project didn’t get finished and should be completed in 2014.
Meanwhile, the controversial roundabout at the current four-way stop at Chemawa and Verda Lane has been pushed back. Bidding will be done late in the year, with construction scheduled to take place next year.
Those are predictions of some of the top stories in the coming year. Here is a look back at how some of the predicted top stories from 2013 turned out.
• Development of Keizer Station vs. River Road: As indicated in the preview part of this story, development at Keizer Station was more noteworthy.
• New look for Keizer City Council: Ken LeDuc joining the council and then resigning four months later was tabbed the top story of 2013 by Keizertimes readers, garnering approximately 29 percent of the votes on the topic at www.keizertimes.com.
• Possible new sport facilities in the Keizer area: This was a hot topic in the early parts of 2013, with 25 fields for Oregon proposing a new facility to open in early 2014. See page 2 for an update on the project.
• Will budget constraints continue or lessen: The budget approved by the council called for no major changes, even as the need for at least one additional police officer was championed by several councilors.
• What about parks not named Keizer Rapids: The idea of creating long-term funding for additional park upgrades and maintenance was discussed through 2013, but the mayor ultimately squashed the plans – for now, at least. Meanwhile, as noted above, there are plans aplenty for KRP.