Tony Cuff and Brad Arnsmeier at work at the Keizer Little League Park fields. Keizer Little League is hoping to rehabilitate the entire park by the 2021 season.  (Submitted)

Tony Cuff and Brad Arnsmeier at work at the Keizer Little League Park fields. Keizer Little League is hoping to rehabilitate the entire park by the 2021 season. (Submitted)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Parks Advisory Board considered and unanimously approved two matching grant applications at its meeting Tuesday Nov. 8.

First up were Peggy and Jerry Moore, garden coordinators at Rickman Community Garden near Chalmers Jones Park behind the Keizer Civic Center

The Moores, working with the Marion-Polk Food Share (MPFS), asked the board for a $1,700 match grant to install a 6-foot fence around the garden.

“We’ve had a small amount of vandalism and a significant amount of theft. It’s disappointing when people work so hard and then they go to harvest and their tomatoes or cucumbers are gone,” said Peggy.

Many of the plots help low- or fixed-income residents get by.

Rickman gardeners have identified neighbors of the park, rather than the youth that frequent Carlson Skate Park, as the primary culprits.

MPFS is contributing materials and labor to the project, the total cost of which would be about $6,900.

To help save on costs, the garden fence will utilize the fence around the city workshops adjacent to the garden on the north side.

Two access points are planned, one for gardeners and another for trucks delivering soil and supplies. Gardeners will be given a code to a combination lock for access.

“I think this is a really worthwhile project that provides something worthwhile to the city,” said Matt Lawyer, a member of the parks board before the vote.

The project will start no later than May 1, 2017, and be completed by June 30.

A $10,000 match grant for Keizer Little League was also approved unanimously. The funds will be used to continue rehabilitation of fields at Keizer Little League Park, off Ridge Drive Northeast.

Project coordinators Brad Arnsmeier, Tony Cuff and Paul McGrath have spoken before the board the past three months trying to iron out the details of the grant request.

And there was still some uncertainty as the board drew closer to a vote Tuesday night.

KLL officials submitted a two-page list of work to be done – valued at nearly $42,000, but little in the way of specific dollar values for specific parts of the project.

While the board has expressed support for the KLL rehab project throughout the process, the parks board is the only city committee that can approve money expenditures independent of the Keizer City Council and board members are cautious about the terms of the grant matches it approves.

To release matching funds, project coordinators must turn in receipts for the amount of the grant, and board members were concerned about the lack of itemized expenses in the KLL proposal.

“It’s a little vague. I would still like a few more dollar amounts, and its possibly challenging when you submit receipts, but I understand you will have more than $10,000 in expenses,” said Robert Johnson, Keizer parks supervisor.

Others voiced similar concerns, but board member Dylan Juran seemed to put the matter to rest.

“If they can’t turn in receipts totaling $10,000, then that’s their (KLL’s) problem,” Juran said.

The goal is to have all the sports fields and facilities at KLL Park rehabilitated or renovated by the 2021 season, which will mark the 50th anniversary of KLL.

The match grant will be used for a wide range of projects within the park including: replanting several fields, irrigation, replacement dirt and warning track cinder rock, rubber mats for dugouts and an outfield fence for one field. KLL officials are also relying on a $50,000 grant from Keizer Rotary that will be doled out over the course of the next four years.

Arnsmeier said he expected to rely on the matching grant program less as the project progresses.

At the beginning of the night, there was $20,000 in the matching grant fund – $15,000 in new money from the beginning of the fiscal year and $5,000 that was carried over after a 2015-16 project fell through. The two approved grants drop the available total to $8,300.