A wish list for Keizer

This week, some friends and I put our heads together to create a Christmas wish list for Keizer. Many of these are food-centric but hey — we like to eat. Here is the list, in not-so-catchy holiday song format:

On the first day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

A pizza-by-the-slice eatery

I am sure the lunch buffet at JC’s or Round Table is great, but I’m not looking to take a nap after lunch. On one hand, both 7-Elevens have said offerings. When I think quality or variety of pies, that’s not where I go—no offense, 7-Eleven. So, as a productive person and refined pizza enthusiast, I’d love to see a pizza-by-the-slice establishment. I know I’m not alone.

On the second day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

Two taco trucks

The city council approved food trucks in the summer of 2016. More than three years later, food trucks in Keizer are still few and far between — and most of the time non-existent. On Friday and Saturday evenings you may be able to find a taco grill outside the Plaza Morelia next to Tequilla Nights. But I’m an American — I want more! What I’m picturing is a reproduction of The Yard Food Park in Salem, or a mini version of that. While one food truck every once in awhile is nice, they’re more likely to succeed in the pod format. Strength in numbers, you know.

On the third day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

Three paddle boats

Okay Keizer, so we filled an old gravel pit with water, paved a walkway around the edge, and built some homes and businesses around it — solid. Now let’s turn Staats Lake into a destination for more than just diseased birds and catfish. My ultimate vision here would be to have paddle boats or a swimming hole during the summer. See Albany’s Waverly Park with the giant duck. At minimum, there should be a large fountain in the middle. Of course, some of these ideas would require the water to be actually habitable by something other than the Loch Ness monster. This seems doable.

On the fourth day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

Small Business Saturday

I would like to see Keizer and its residents really embrace Small Business Saturday, the day following Black Friday every year in November. Starting next year, I’m asking for people to join me in pledging 100 percent of their consumption that day to small businesses. This is not anti-big-business, just asking people to patronize only small business on one day of the year. We’ll discover new things and new people, perhaps even find a new favorite spot for shopping or eating. Mark it in your calendar: Nov. 28, 2020.

On the fifth day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

Five non-chain restaurants

It is almost universally acknowledged that Keizer is missing some truly unique eating experiences. My criteria for distinct dining is pretty simple: 1.) only one location in existence; 2.) no video lottery machines; 3.) no televisions; 4.) open for dinner. According to those benchmarks, Keizer has precisely five of those restaurants: Bai Bua Thai Kitchen, Gyro Stop (has a TV but never seen it on), Nagani, Pho Keizer and Thai Lotus. Those coming close were Mommy & Maddi’s (not open for dinner), Red Ginger (one TV only on in the evenings). It’s worth pointing out that Keizer Station has exactly zero of these foodie-friendly establishments. Forget the hippopotamus for Christmas, I want five more original restaurants.

On the sixth day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

Six city districts

In the name of diversity, proper representation and fairness, the existing six city council seats should correspond to six geographical districts, with the mayoral seat being an at-large vote. These zones could easily be aligned along public elementary school boundary lines. There are seven elementary schools in Keizer, so two schools would need to be combined into one city district. Since Forest Ridge and Clear Lake are the closest together, we can merge those two into one.

On the seventh day of Christmas our city gave to thee:

Seven screens a showing

Remember the movie theater? No, not the old Keizer Cinemas in the current Skyline Keizer Ford location, although I have very fond memories of it from my childhood. I’m referring to the multiplex that never was in Keizer Station. The developer cited rising construction costs and bailed. It was supposed to be a 9-screen venue, but hey I’d settle for a modest seven if that meant it actually happened. These days, literally everyone has a filmmaking tool in their pocket, which has led to a boom in young filmmakers. A Keizer theater could host a film festival where local artists are showcased. What does it say to the film students at McNary, that their city doesn’t even have a movie theater? Sure, streaming habits have played a factor in theater attendance, but you can’t tell that to the people behind such 2019 critically acclaimed and profitable independent films like Peanut Butter Falcon and Countdown or major studio blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame or Joker.  

On the eighth day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

Sidewalks on every street

The first lines of a song made famous by Whitney Houston goes, “I believe the children are our are future, Teach them well and let them lead the way.” Giving them sidewalks on every street in town would certainly better there chances at having any type of future. Texting and driving is a rampant issue. Even at lower speeds, it only takes a driver one short look down at their phone to claim a child’s life from a bike lane or non-existent sidewalk. Even though there are now widespread laws against texting and driving, it’s still a big problem. The city of Keizer owes it to their children, no matter the cost. Make it happen.

On the ninth day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

Nine jokers joking

Why should we have to travel outside Keizer for a live comedy show? We should have a Keizer Komedy Club (KKC). Only two K’s though — there’s nothing funny about racist bigots. On a lighter note, there’s plenty to laugh about in Keizer. Like that time everybody got excited when worker’s mistakenly installed a Trader Joe’s sign at Keizer Station. Or, when our city manager was named Keith Olbermann’s ‘Worst Person In The World.’ How about all the dumb criminals we have had? Like the burglar who was caught because he insisted on showering before he fled. Or the burglar who got stuck in a window, or the wanted man stuck in the ceiling, or the evading bicyclist whose handlebars fell off. Law enforcement has their occasional laughs as well. The KPD once had a three hour standoff with an empty building. The suspect was believed to escape via Cherriots bus. The Keizertimes is not even immune to a few chuckling moments. In my early days at the newspaper, I forgot to include an advertiser’s logo in their ad. If that’s not a solid material for the ‘Komedy Club’, I don’t know what is. Laugh at yourselves Keizer, it’s healthy.

On the tenth day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

LifeSource a lunching

We’ve already gone over pizza and food trucks here. In the name of equal representation, join me in my public outcry for having no health food store in Keizer. South Salem has two for Pete’s sake. On a regular basis, I will drive out south to Commercial Street to have a ready-made healthy lunch from the LifeSource deli. After all, how many burger joints can we go in and out of? Which brings us to our next verse.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

Fuddruckers feasting

When all this In-N-Out madness began, I would like to point out that I was a contrarian from the very beginning. Who needs ‘animal style’ when you can get pico de gallo on your burger? Better yet, can you get scrumptious potato wedges dipped in hot cheese sauce at In-N-Out? While I don’t travel north on Interstate 5 very often, my car doesn’t like to pass Fuddruckers without stopping. As I approach exit 290, the car definitely pulls hard to the right. I should get that checked out.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, our city gave to thee:

KeizerFEST’s new home

We should make it a priority to rescue the festival from Cherry Avenue. That was a nice experiment, but it’s time to move on from that location. I’m not claiming that I have the solution, but I know the current location has no potential for growth. Every year, there are signifiant periods where the festival grounds look more like a ghost town than a celebration of Keizer. The festival once thrived in front of St. Edward Catholic Church. Let’s come up with something to breathe some new life into KeizerFEST.

I have high hopes for this 2019 holiday jingle. Maybe next year at this time, some of these holiday wishes will have been granted. Please find below the final verse. The recording is not available at this time, so hum along if you like.

On the twelfth day of Christmas

our city gave to thee:

KeizerFEST’s new home

Fuddruckers feasting,

LifeSource a lunching,

Nine jokers joking,

Sidewalks on every street,

Seven screens a showing

Six city districts

Five non-chain restaurants,

Small Business Saturday,

Three paddle boats,

Two taco trucks,

and a pizza-by-the-slice eatery

Do you have any holiday wishes for Keizer? Email yours to [email protected].

(Andrew Jackson is the Keizertimes production manager, graphic designer and resident smart aleck.)