By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Keizer City Councilors can see where they are going.
Councilors spent their work session on Feb. 9 fine tuning goals they hope to accomplish in the next two years, as well as long-term goals.
The work session built upon goals talked about in a similar meeting back in December. The goals are expected to be formally adopted during one of the regular council meetings in March, most likely the March 2 meeting.
One of the main new short-term goals is Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) expansion, which was previously listed as a long-term goal.
“Is there a consensus to move that to short-term?” Mayor Cathy Clark asked councilors.
City Manager Chris Eppley noted progress being made towards that.
“It’s almost impossible for that goal not to occur,” Eppley said. “There is additional work to accomplish before that, like we have to do transportation planning outside the UGB area in the area the UGB will likely be added. We are applying for grants to do that. It’s expensive work. The state keeps promising us grants to do it, but we keep missing it by one of two. We’ve applied three or four times now. We’re hoping fifth time is the charm.”
In regards to a timing question from councilor Brandon Smith, Eppley said UGB is an expansion.
“We’re ready to start on it,” Eppley said. “We’ll budget for it regardless. We will be ready to move forward regardless (of grants).”
Once it’s time to actually work on UGB expansion, Eppley noted there will be community discussion and city leaders will seek direction.
“We will ultimately need direction in terms of low, medium or high growth and things like the type of industrial or commercial land to develop a realistic land supply need,” said Eppley, who noted other entities such as the city of Salem would have to give their support.
Councilor Marlene Quinn brought up the goal of adding a full-time parks employee, while Smith augmented that with coming up with a stable funding mechanism for parks. Smith was chair of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board in 2013 when that board spent much of the year going over ideas for stable funding, only to be told late in the year to put plans on hold in order to focus on the Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park.
“That’s a good discussion for the Parks Board and the community to have,” Clark said. “I want to make sure people don’t think we will be hiring someone tomorrow.”
Clark brought up the idea of increased community engagement.
“The purpose is to better understand what people need and connect them with volunteer opportunities,” she said. “We have heard many times we need a volunteer coordinator and we need to be more inclusive with all sectors of the community. I know there are areas we can improve.”
Councilor Roland Herrera agreed, especially in terms of reaching the Latino community.
“I think the process is something overdue,” Herrera said. “(Police) Chief John Teague has been instrumental in reaching out. Fire Chief Jeff Cowan is a champion in reaching out. I would like to be able to help out with that.”
Clark suggested having a communications person and coordinator to help identify needs. Eppley noted government typically is not good at such communications.
“We need to be getting out to the community and getting our message out,” Eppley said. “We need a person taking on an active role of using social media to get us engaged with the part of the community that uses it. There are a lot of uses for this kind of position for telling our story. I like the idea, maybe as a long-range goal because that helps us make sure we have a stable funding source. We’d want to take a very deliberate approach. Staff is expensive, so we’d want to sustain what we can do.”
Youth councilor Ryan Edsall noted he’s been working on a youth page program.
“You would have a shadow attend meetings,” Edsall said. “The page would follow that councilor, maybe take that information and put it to use on a youth council.”
Eppley noted a lead youth could coordinate the efforts, which would be a good thing on a resume.
“It’s a great thing to have,” Eppley said.
Clark is eager to see the idea expanded upon.
“This is a concept we need to flush out with logistics,” she said. “We would want it as open as possible for Keizer youth to participate in the program.”
Clark has been key in getting youth involved with the council and has expressed a desire to expand the outreach.
“It’s something I’ve been passionate about,” she said. “It irritates the cookies out of me to see the (youth council) seat vacant. To have two people this year, I’m thrilled. Not only to have you learn from us, but I’m learning from you. There is a lot of support to move forward with this. I think it’s a brilliant idea.”