Pull the plug

The last of the meetings for stakeholders regarding the Keizer Revitalization Plan along Keizer’s main thoroughfare was held this week.

The plan will provide a vision for revitalization of one of Keizer’s major commercial areas: River Road and Cherry Avenue. The plan, which will incorporate recommendations to the city council from a citizens advisory council, will include suggested updated policies and use, development, and design standards for the plan area. Suggested public investments to achieve plan area objectives and includes strategies to implement the recommendations. The plan is a supporting document to the city’s Comprehensive Plan and the city’s development code.

A review of the consultants’ initial report shows that there is nothing new here. The initial recommendations are what have been recommended by several previous revitalization and beautification projects—remember River Road Renaissance? Remember Keizer Compass and the proposed districts up and down River Road? It is all the same. Thank goodness the consultants are being paid with a grant from the state and not from city coffers. 

The process wherein Keizer is trying to design the future of the city’s main commercial street is, once again, missing a major component—the property owners whose support will be needed to achieve even a portion of some of the early recommendations.

Perhaps it is time to put this project on indefinite hold. Instead of trying to devise a plan, then get stakeholders and the public to endorse it, focus on repair and maintenance of River Road and Cherry Avenue and let the free market decide what works best.

The problem is that what is being recommended is the same as what has been called for in previous iterations of River Road projects. In lieu of something new and forward looking, it is best to just to let it go. 

Are Keizer home and business owners ready to bear the financial burden of a more beautiful River Road? Businesses are already under the gun for new taxes the Oregon legislature is seeking. Wouldn’t Keizer readily get behind a plan that more efficiently moves traffic around our city? That would have more of an impact on the everyday life of Keizerites than what’s recommended in the initial revitalization report.

Some may exclaim, “What about all the time and money spent on this project so far?” Put the final report aside and open it in the future when Keizer is ready to stomach the cost and disruption. 

We would be open to the city reviewing zoning codes along River Road and Cherry Avenue, in partnership with the private sector, to create an atmosphere that fosters economic development.

The city will have more than enough on its plate when the call for expanding the Urban Growth Boundary gets louder and louder. The state decrees that Keizer needs more space to accomodate expected growth. That means Keizer must decide if it will grow vertically or horizontally. 

Let’s pull the plug on these redundant beautification idea projects and focus on the important question of Keizer’s future growth overall.          —LAZ