By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
At this time a year ago, the idea of Palma Ciea Park being sold and being turned into new housing was a distinct possibility.
That changed when it was discovered the city doesn’t technically own the park land and thus couldn’t sell it.
Now the park is getting a proverbial second lease on life.
Several neighbors spoke at Tuesday’s Keizer Parks and Recreation Board meeting at Keizer Civic Center, seeking improvements for the park and talking about future plans. That would be a contrast to the current overrun condition of the park overlooking the Willamette River, which prompted last year’s discussions.
Martin Doerfler noted he and several neighbors went to the park a number of years ago and “made it look pretty decent for a while” and noted the same could happen now, especially if neighbors stopped throwing yard debris into the park.
“It can look nice,” Doerfler said. “It could be a viable park. To sit and look at the river, it would be a great place. We would just need a couple of benches. I would go sit, look at the river and read. If you can go, sit and relax for a bit, it would be a worthwhile space.”
In response to a question from newly re-elected Parks Board chair David Louden, Doerfler said he imagined neighbors would be willing to help clean out the park.
Robert Johnson, parks supervisor for Keizer, said some of the work shouldn’t be too hard.
“We could limb some trees,” Johnson said. “If we keep the benches up high by the wall, you can get views of the river.”
Johnson noted there used to be more problems with debris in the park than what’s been seen recently. He estimated the park would have space for at least one or possibly two benches overlooking the river. Johnson will look at the park and report back at next month’s Parks Board meeting.
Rhonda Rich, president of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, emphasized the view at the park.
“All that park has to offer is a view,” Rich said. “The access to the river is treacherous. Benches or a bench is a good start.”
Gary Blake noted he’s talked with neighbors about sprucing up Palma Ciea Park.
“As a neighborhood group, there has been a heightened interest in what’s happening in park,” Blake said. “Everybody I’ve talked to is willing and anxious to help, to give the park identity, a reason to go there, better security. The more people that go there, the better it will be treated. That’s what the neighborhood would like to see. We’d like to work hand in hand with city maintenance people. We’re glad to take assignments to help. We’re hoping we can make this a place people would be glad to go to.”
Blake said some people have been talking about doing community gardens at the park.
“The main interest is to have something happening in the park so nothing bad is happening,” he said.
Parks Board member Richard Walsh suggested the WKNA could put together a committee to come up with a vision for the park.
“We don’t want it to be a magnet for trouble, we want it to be something for the neighborhood to be proud of,” Walsh said.
Johnson said community gardens would be good, though getting water would have to be figured out.
“Community gardens are really neat and are going in other places with great success,” Johnson said. “It does draw people to a park. Having people there constantly versus nobody ever there is a big difference and keeps the riff-raff out of there.”