By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
They may have had different motives and rationales, but two citizens speaking to Keizer City Councilors on Monday shared a similar request.
Rhonda Rich and Darrell Richardson both spoke during the public comment portion at the start of the meeting, asking for a smoking ban at parks in Keizer.
For Rich, the president of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, her concern was due to safety, especially at Keizer Rapids Park in her neighborhood.
“I have concerns about tall weeds and limbs around the orchards and cigarettes being discarded into the grass,” Rich said. “There needs to be clearer signs about the dangers and a temporary ban on smoking in the park. We need to protect our neighborhood and city.”
Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer, agreed extra signage would be a good idea in the midst of such a dry summer.
“I have no problem about putting up signs about extreme fire danger and no smoking in the park,” Lawyer said. “I can put signs up tomorrow. We will cover every access point.”
Richardson brought up the idea of a smoking ban in Keizer parks back in April. The suggestion was passed on to members of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting, who didn’t move forward on such a ban.
“I’m excited about you putting up the signs at parks,” Richardson said. “I hope you will include Sunset Park. I haven’t heard back about my request (from April).”
Councilor Marlene Parsons noted the Parks Board didn’t do anything with the request.
“I know; I was at the meeting,” Richardson replied. “The Parks Board representative downplayed it so much, I couldn’t believe it. Why do we have to depend on the Parks Board for this? Sunset Park is one that shouldn’t have smoking. I live right next to Sunset. We have two or three guys that come down and smoke cigars for several hours. Quite a few cities don’t allow smoking in parks. Let those that don’t smoke have some rights, too.”
Mayor Cathy Clark expressed her appreciation to Richardson for bringing the topic up again.
“I don’t think this is a conversation that has finished by any stretch,” Clark said. “Marion County and Salem don’t allow smoking in any parks. Enforcement is an issue.”
Clark suggested having members of the Marion County Health Authority talk about smoking at a Parks Board meeting.
“The way people in our community make decisions is with good information,” Clark said. “It is a community conversation. In Salem they had a series of public hearings. This was a process the community got involved in.”
Councilor Dennis Koho said he’d be willing to vote on the issue, even if the Parks Board continues to have no recommendation.
Richardson noted how recent fires in the Northwest have been started by discarded cigarette butts.
“It’s a common sense law,” he said. “The state, Marion County and Salem have all stepped up.”
Despite his frustration with the lack of action, Richardson emphasized he still loves Keizer.
“This is the best city in the world,” he said.
In other business Aug. 3:
• Lyndon Zaitz gave a presentation about Saturday’s RIVERfair, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at KRP.
“We have nice, diverse activities,” Zaitz said. “We have a lot for families. We’re very excited about what is happening. There are a lot of new vendors and a lot of returning vendors.”
• Councilors approved a request from Clint Holland to add a concert and a movie date at the KRP amphitheater. The concert on Aug. 22 will take the place of the cancelled Pig in the Park event, while a movie will be added for sometime in September.
Koho noted he’s heard some complaints from people about not being able to bring their water into events on hot nights. Holland said waters can be brought in on movie nights and also noted crowds have been big throughout the summer.
“This year we’re packing them in for every event,” Holland said. “This last weekend we sold more food and beverages than we have for any event. The last four events have all been large.”
• Councilor Amy Ripp noted Red Wing Shoes is moving to Keizer Station; more specifically, into the space currently occupied by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce. As a result, the chamber office is moving to 6150 Ulali Drive next week, next to World Market.
• Jessi Long was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Keizer Public Arts Commission. Long will serve a three-year term ending in June 2018.
• The council work session on Aug. 10 will be a tour of the Salem-Keizer School District’s Career and Technical Education Campus on Portland Road. The tour starts at 5:45 p.m. and will be open to the public.