By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has started formulating its recommendation for putting the new parks fee to use.

Beginning in November, the city will begin collecting $4 a month/$8 per utility bill to pay for parks maintenance and improvements.

Members of the parks board are developing a plan for the first three years of the fee. In the immediate future, it calls for adding two full-time parks employees, increasing services like mowing and fertilization, replacement of aging equipment and vehicles and system-wide tree maintenance and invasive species removal.

In the second half of 2018, residents might begin to notice some of the bigger changes in the works: replacing the playground at Meadows Park and the sports courts at Claggett Creek and Northview parks.

The current plan represents only a draft of things to come and will need to be formally accepted by the Parks Board and then the Keizer City Council before anything happens. Parks board members are trying to get a jump on the next construction season as contractors will need to be hired from some projects and nearly all of the work is weather-dependent.

The largest projects on the docket include capital improvements such as rehabilitating the large lawn in the southwest corner of Keizer Rapids Park, additional work at Carlson Skate Park and construction of a new Parks Shop to house equipment. None of those have a projected start date and will depend on how quickly funds accumulate and whether partners can be found to push them further up the calendar.

At the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting Tuesday, Oct. 10, Board member Jim Taylor said he would like to see the field at Keizer Rapids Park get underway soon. The city had hoped to rehab the field with volunteer effort prior to the Keizer eclipse event in August, but a required permit and lack of funds to pay for it stalled the effort.

Taylor said the nature of the work as far as seeding the ground lent itself to a spring start.

His call for action was met with reticence on the parts of board members Donna Bradley and Matt Lawyer.

“There is a lot of feeling in the community about everything going to Keizer Rapids Park, and there are a lot of other things that need to be done. It needs to be considered, but I don’t think it should be No. 1,” Bradley said.

Lawyer advocated for taking care of some of the more underdeveloped park spaces first.

“We need to have a serious conversation about the underdeveloped parks and the transient population using those spaces for camping. That is a serious concern for the neighbors of those parks and a safety issue,” Lawyer said.

Residents who would like a chance to provide input on the plan are encouraged to attend a parks fee planning meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the Keizer Civic Center.

The board expects to bring a finalized plan back for approval in November.