By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
As envisioned more than a year ago, new soccer fields would be done by now in land near I-5 and Keizer Station.
Clearly, that hasn’t happened.
But Carrie Cool, executive director of 25 fields for Oregon, isn’t giving up quite yet.
Early last year Cool and others from her group attended several meetings in Keizer to drum up support for their plans to construct a 25-field, 130-acre youth park on 195 acres of land north of Chemawa Road, between I-5 and Portland Road.
The group met with the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board a couple of times early in 2013.
“It’s not a question of if, but when,” Cool said at one such meeting when asked if she believed the project would indeed happen. “We chose this place because of the location…It’s all about the conversation. This is huge for Oregon. We just need to keep this conversation going.”
Most recently the group kept the conversation going with a presentation to the Keizer City Council last April 1. During that meeting, councilor Jim Taylor said he liked the idea but pointed to what he expected to be a slow process ahead, especially in working with state leaders.
“Legislative action takes a long time,” Taylor said at the time. “I love this idea, but sometimes being a realist hurts.”
That has indeed proven to be the case.
The group had a booth during last May’s Keizer Iris Festival, but has largely been out of sight since.
Due to the prolonged silence, some were starting to wonder if that meant the project was done. Not so, according to Cool.
“We have been busy here at 25 fields for Oregon and happily always making progress,” Cool said in an e-mail Dec. 27. “We are definitely moving forward but this is a huge undertaking. That said, we are committed to the youth of Oregon and have every intention of seeing this through. There are just too many positives for the local community and the state when this facility opens, and no ‘real’ deterrents to making it happen.”
In a follow-up e-mail, Cool said plenty of work is being done behind the scenes.
“We have met with a number of individuals and groups in political offices,” Cool said. “With a very few isolated exceptions, people get what we’re trying to do and support the mission and vision of 25 fields for Oregon. It’s pretty simple, after all; we’re promoting children’s welfare and youth sports in the state of Oregon.”
Cool said fundraising and outreach are currently the emphasis for her group, including improvements to the group’s website (25fields.org).
“While we would love to provide a timeline (we actually could open in 2015 if all goes well), what’s most important is to keep making progress,” Cool said. “We have active supporters from the Salem/Keizer area, but how quickly we get to open will depend on the Oregon community as a whole.”