By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The way Roland Herrera sees it, perhaps the meeting could spur other such meetings.
On March 20 the newest member of both the Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association (GGNA) and the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board led a discussion on parks in the Gubser area during the monthly GGNA meeting.
In light of the Parks Board’s recent decision to turn its annual allocated money – which has been around $20,000 a year in recent years – into a matching grant program, the GGNA meeting was turned into a workshop in which residents talked about what improvements should be made at parks within the GGNA boundaries.
“We had maps of all the parks,” Herrera said. “About 80 percent of the ideas were park improvements. We came up with a list for each park. We gave everybody one minute to explain their view.”
While Herrera led the discussion, Parks Board chair Brandon Smith talked about the matching grant program. As part of the program, Parks Board members will match funds or equipment citizens are willing to put towards a project.
Public Works Director Bill Lawyer also helped explain the program, while Parks Board member Richard Walsh was in attendance as well.
The three main parks talked about at the meeting were Bob Newton, Country Glen and Hidden Creek Parks, with a mention also of Northridge Park.
“It was very efficient,” Herrera said of the process. “We ended up with a lot of positive input. Some of it will work for the matching grant program. Everyone made a statement about parks. Everybody talked about distributing money equally to all the parks. I’ve always felt the whole package has to be looked at. We want not only our parks in that area (addressed), we also had a discussion about how we could help the other parks in Keizer.”
In addition to getting a minute to speak, everyone in attendance got stickers to put by the most needed improvements for each park.
Prior to that, ideas for improvements at each park were written on large sheets of paper, which were taped to the walls at Gubser Elementary School.
“Everyone went up there,” Herrera said. “Everyone thought it was cool. I’m glad I’m part of this thing. Now we have a whole bunch of people cooperating. I want to use this as a model for the other areas of town.”
At Bob Newton Park, installing trees around play equipment got the most stickers (12). Other top ideas were logs and safety issues (eight stickers), boulders on Mandarin Way (seven) and playground structure bolts (seven). Four other ideas got six stickers each.
For Country Glen Park, swings got the most stickers (eight), followed by lighting on the path and half-court basketball with four stickers each.
Removing invasive material was the most popular idea at Hidden Creek Park with eight stickers, followed by dog bags/garbage cans (seven) and more trees (seven).
The one idea brought up for Northridge Park was developing access and path.
“I hope other areas see this as a model and move forward this way,” Herrera said. “I’d be willing to help them. That’s my wish, that people in other areas see this and say, ‘I want to do this.’ They can go to the Parks Board and I hope we can help them. We’re making this happen.”
Herrera feels there are no better people to ask about park improvements than the neighbors who use those parks.
“Everyone knows the park they go to,” he said. “I know we can do better and move things a notch up. We have a neighborhood association in Gubser with members who are proactive.”