By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Field space issues aren’t going away anytime soon for the Keizer Soccer Club (KSC).
As such, club officials are hoping to move forward with plans for two soccer fields at Keizer Rapids Park.
The idea was brought up last week during the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting. A letter to the Parks Board from KSC’s Erin Christison highlighted key features.
Christison, in charge of sponsorships for KSC, noted the group’s original plan of erecting two full-size soccer fields was still being requested, requiring roughly 10 acres. The fields were originally planned to be built directly across from the Big Toy play structure.
“We feel that this was a great placement to encourage family and spectator participation in games and other activities,” Christison wrote.
The letter states the need for at least 120 parking spaces and that the group “had also been promised the use of city funds” for the $150,000 project.
The goals would be removable so the field could be used for other activities when not needed by KSC, with the group seeking a sponsor willing to help with maintenance.
In an interview with the Keizertimes this week, Christison said the project is a continuation of past efforts to get new soccer fields in Keizer. Last year, KSC officials wanted to build a new field at Claggett Creek Park, with plans down the road for two fields at KRP. However, it was determined there was not enough room for a full-size field at Claggett Creek due to water protection issues, so that idea was nixed.
“It’s the same project,” Christison said. “With Claggett Creek, it was going to be cheaper to start with that one. That was going to be phase 1; Keizer Rapids Park was going to be phase 2. With them redoing the whole master plan, we wanted to put a stake in it.”
A key driving factor behind the UGB expansion is possibly finding a new location for the Big Toy. Christison feels it still makes sense to have the two projects by each other.
“If we can, we would still like to be close to the Big Toy,” she said. “It makes sense to have fields right next to it. If soccer fields are not being used, we hope families come and play on (the Big Toy). Having kids of my own and going to soccer games, they all happen at Whitaker (Middle School). It would be nice to have playgrounds across the way. Having them in conjunction is a great thing.”
What would cause the project to cost $150,000?
“We would have to regrade whatever part of the park is given to us,” Christison said. “We would do the irrigation, that sort of thing. If we are getting the fields, what we had discussed with the Parks Board was to build a proper park structure. We’d also have to have the right parking area to go with it. That cost is a rough estimate.”
Where the funding would come from is a little fuzzy at this point, in part because numbers don’t match.
“(The city) had said if we could get stuff going and we had volunteers willing to help us out, they would give us $45,000 for what we needed with materials,” Christison said. “We’re still willing to do that, as far as I know. And the Parks Board has $100,000 in their budget.”
Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer, gave different numbers in terms of the city’s commitment.
“Since the determination that the project at Claggett Creek Park was not an option, there has not been a formal request to the city council for any other soccer field projects at other parks in Keizer,” Lawyer said Tuesday. “The Parks Board recommended the city council authorize $15,000 for the Claggett project and $45,000 for the fields at Keizer Rapids. However, the city council decided to work with the Keizer Soccer Club on one project at a time with the Claggett project being the first one.”
Regardless of funding from the city, Christison said the push will be for sponsorships.
“Since it is for the community, we want to get as much from sponsorships so they feel these are truly their fields and they can help out,” she said. “The more we don’t take from the city, the happier we would be.”
Currently the KSC uses fields at Whitaker, but overcrowding in the fall is a common occurrence. Thus, the hope is to get going sooner rather than later on new fields.
“We don’t know if we’ll have the lands for the soccer fields,” Christison said. “It really depends on the OK. Once we have the OK, we are hoping for a six-month timeline. Then for next spring we would be able to have a good season and the fields would be ready to use the next fall. If we could get things going by next April, everyone will be extremely happy.”