By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The Keizer City Council and Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board are hosting a joint work session Monday, Jan. 9. The topic is a parks survey and parks board members are hoping to pack the room.
“I would love to have to do this three times because we run out of space,” said Matt Lawyer, a parks board member.
The work session begins at 5:45 p.m. at the Keizer Civic Center.
The parks board has spent the better part of eight months developing and honing the survey that asks residents about their park priorities and whether they would support a fee to create a dedicated parks fund.
Parks board members will present the survey and a powerpoint presentation to the council and answer questions from the public and council at the meeting. Fee options in the survey range from no fee to $8 per month.
The theme of the campaign is “Maintain, Match and Move Forward.”
Keizer’s 19 parks, which include 240 acres of the city, are in a funding crisis. Without additional funds, some amenities are likely to be closed or removed as they reach the end of their lifecycle. Even things like regular mowing and maintenance could suffer.
The city has been making do with two full-time parks employees and a few seasonal employees for the past several years, but the addition of more park spaces and amenities is stretching resources thin.
The “Match” portion of the campaign refers to system development charges (SDCs) collected by the city when new residential construction begins in Keizer. The city has nearly $800,000 in SDCs already collected, but those funds can only be used for 13.6 percent of any new project. For example, if the city wanted to build a new $100,000 indoor sports facility, only $13,600 of SDC money could be used to fund the project. The city would have to come up with another $86,400 from other sources. To spend down the entire $800,000 in already-collected SDCs, Keizer would need to come up with $6.1 million. Limits on how much SDC money can be spent on any given project are set by the state.
“Moving Forward” refers to the city’s ability to act upon a parks master plan that was crafted with resident input almost a decade ago. While some projects on the list have come to fruition – primarily through grants and donated material and labor – many more are still waiting for funds to become available.
The parks survey can be completed online, visit www.keizer.org and click on the link at the top of the page. There is also the option of printing dead-tree copies and returning them to the Keizer Civic Center. Surveys are being included with utility bills in December and January.