Parks board backs new look at park host

The view from the front porch of a caretaker’s home in Keizer Rapids Park.

The call to re-examine the caretaker role at Keizer Rapids Park grew out of a request put to the members of the Keizer Parks Advisory Board at a meeting Tuesday, April 9. 

That was where former city councilor Richard Walsh first aired his concern regarding the ending of the caretaker program.

At that meeting, Walsh said the biggest cause of concern was how a renter could change the culture of the park, especially as it pertains to the noise features like the amphitheater and Big Toy can create. 

“The biggest challenge is that it is the closest neighbor. The noise variance is based on the closest neighbor and the house is right next to the amphitheater,” Walsh said. 

Rather than convert the caretaker home (Buchanan House) into a rental property, Walsh said the public was better served by re-instating the caretaker role at the park, which the city ended last year. 

“We also saw a huge benefit to having a caretaker down at the park. The more the eyes and ears there the less likely people will go there to do nefarious activity,” Walsh said. 

He added that with recent changes to laws governing rentals, and evictions, were also a concern. As an alternative, Walsh suggested modeling a revived caretaker program after the host and caretaker program offered in Oregon State Parks. 

Parks Supervisor Robert Johnson suggested quick action.

“Our plan now was to make it a straight rental. [The board] should pursue a recommendation quickly because we were looking at putting it on the market within a month,” Johnson said. 

The board had already requested the city take another look at reinstating the caretaker role, but it was denied quickly before the Oregon Legislature revised laws dealing with rentals and evictions. 

“I think it as least worth recommending given the new circumstances,” said Dylan Juran, a parks board member.

Board Member Donna Bradley said the board has the best interest of the park at heart while the city is wary of spending money. Both, she said, deserved airing.

“I think it’s important, but the city has some good reasons, too. I would like you to take this to the council as soon as possible,” Bradley said. 

Johnson added that a caretaker would be helpful with the recent addition of a public restroom with flushing toilets. 

“We went in the weekend after Spring Break and it was rough. There was no toilet paper left,” Johnson said. “A caretaker could help with those kinds of things.”