Of the Keizertimes

Nothing is set in stone, but there could indeed be a future use for the former Charge house at Keizer Rapids Park.

Richard Walsh, chair of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, gave an update during the board’s meeting last month. Walsh has been in correspondence with Michelle Cordova, director of the Salem-based Straub Environmental Learning Center (SELC), in recent months about the idea of SELC possibly using a renovated version of the old house.

“Nothing has been offered by anyone in the city but this document is intended to just get the discussion started,” Walsh wrote in an e-mail to Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer.

For several months now, Parks Board members have discussed the potential future of the building, including whether the current structure could be salvaged or if it should be torn down and started over from scratch.

Regardless of what decision the Parks Board makes, that decision would be forwarded to the Keizer City Council, which would have the final call.

Before such a decision can be made, however, Lawyer said a feasibility study was ordered.

“The intent of having the feasibility study being done was to help us understand if it makes sense to renovate the existing building or start over,” Lawyer said. “When you start to renovate structures and bring them to code requirements, sometimes it’s less expensive to start over. At this point, it appears feasible to use the existing structure.”

Both Walsh and outgoing Parks Board member Rick Day did sketches of what a renovated structure might look like. The sketches are similar, with the main differences being the size and the entrance to the meeting or green room on the right side of the structure and the men’s restroom on the left side. Walsh’s sketch adds a small office space.

Both versions feature a larger women’s restroom, an arched breezeway in the center, the current garage converted into a large meeting room and a tiled patio.

“In mine, you use the first room (off the archway) as an office, with the second as a men’s bathroom,” Walsh said. “I put a hole in the wall so the person in the office can watch traffic. There’s a smaller men’s bathroom than in Rick’s drawing.

“We also have a larger classroom to accommodate 30 to 40 people,” he added. “Straub wants a small bathroom for kids. But they really need office space and the classroom is too small to be useable. After talking with them, that’s why I made the changes.”

Day had previously recommended putting on a new roof and feels setting aside some funds for future needs would be good.

“A permanent metal roof means no water leaks,” he said. “We may also want to establish a kitty fund for small maintenance, i.e. they can call a plumber if they need to. I would suggest you develop a small treasury. These changes will bring a lot of value.”

Lawyer said having a small fund for repairs would be a good idea, based on the extra use the building could see.

“What I see with this is a lot more ongoing maintenance than in the original proposal,” he said.