The sand volleyball courts have been a popular addition to Keizer Rapids Park. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

The sand volleyball courts have been a popular addition to Keizer Rapids Park. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

The three new sand volleyball courts are being used.

But please, be courteous and share with fellow Keizerites.

That was the message from Hans Schneider, who spearheaded the project at Keizer Rapids Park, to members of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board last week.

“The courts are complete,” said Schneider, who did the project with $5,000 in assistance from the Parks Board’s matching grant program. “It’s still a little bit of a work in progress. We are adding a sprinkler system. We are talking to Robert (Johnson, parks supervisor for Keizer) about getting a sand dig area for kids. Kids are using the sand and bringing dirt into the courts. Maybe we could put up a sign for kids to use the sandbox.”

Another change has been in terms of watering.

“We are putting in a sprinkler system,” Schneider said. “We redug a 70-foot trench to water down the courts if they get hot. We’re also changing the tension system on the nets.”

Schneider noted other issues have come up since the courts were completed in late July.

“The ground is so packed down, if the ball goes outside the perimeter of the court it rolls forever,” he said. “You could be chasing it 200 feet or so. We’re looking at temporary fencing. We’re also having a little issue with dust from the sand. I think it’ll rectify itself with time.”

One of the main issues Schneider sees down the road is making sure everyone gets a chance to use the courts. He has had discussions with Johnson and Bill Lawyer, the Public Works director, about the topic.

“Over the next couple of months we want to see what happens,” Schneider said. “Sometimes volleyball programs will come in and dominate the courts for two or three hours. We have had McNary High School volleyball use it a couple of days, putting up signs. We have had discussion about reserving the courts.

“We’re not going to depend on outside volleyball groups coming in,” he added. “That’s not the reason it was built. When for-profit organizations come in, I have an issue. In other places they come in and use them from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.”

Parks Board member Dylan Juran asked if signs could be put up about fair play and sharing, while William Criteser noted basketball courts often have a challenge system in which the winner gets to keep using the court.

“There are different systems that can be used,” Schneider said. “One court could be reserved for recreational play. We want to see how it works first. The courts have been getting a lot of use. The only time all three courts have been used at the same time is when McNary used all three.”

Johnson said there is no system in place currently for reserving the courts.

“This winter we will come up with some type of reservable system like we do with other parks,” Johnson said. “It’s still too new right now.”

In response to a question from J.T. Hager, Schneider said there is the potential of groups coming in and blocking the community from being able to use the courts.

Johnson said any general comments or questions about the courts can be sent to him.

Scott Klug wondered if setting up a reservation system would become permanent.

“Once we start reserving, it will be hard to change it,” Klug said to Schneider. “You understand better than us the etiquette system that works the best.”

Juran asked if people would be able to share without signage or reservations.

“Is it too much to assume people will be polite?” he asked. “I don’t know if that’s too much to hope for.”

Schneider noted he’s at the court two or three times a day talking with players, with the season slowing down soon as fall approaches.

One of those players, Rodney Dean, spoke about being able to play on the courts.

“I’m so grateful you put in the three courts,” Dean said. “I just returned from a Seaside volleyball tournament. They were excited to hear about what we’re doing in Keizer. I love what you’ve done here. It’s great to have such a nice facility locally.”

Dean gave an example of a bigger city not protecting access to the courts for citizens.

“In Seattle, a lot of the players were jealous of what we have here, with the courts not being rented out to clubs,” Dean said. “In Seattle they are renting courts out to clubs. People show up at 6 a.m. to get on the court, but they are getting pushed out by the 5:30 clubs. Anything we can do to keep the courts available for citizens would be great.”

Schneider worked with the Parks Board for more than a year to get everything lined up so the project could be done.

“Thank you for the opportunity to build it,” he said.

Juran and Tanya Hamilton paid back the gratefulness.

“We want to thank you for building it,” Juran said.

“Thank you for being so patient,” Hamilton said.