Sidewalk plan forthcoming, funding less likely

For many Keizer residents, knowing where the sidewalk ends means simply walking around the block or even just stepping outside their home.

The Keizer Traffic Safety, Bikeways and Pedestrian Committee is well aware of the problems, figuring out how to fill in the gaps is a larger struggle. After surveying some of the more obvious gaps, members of the task force unveiled a priority list for fixing neighborhood connections at their meeting Thursday, Aug. 13.

The list of needed sidewalk projects totaled 26 sites, but the members identified four as top priorities:

• Windsor Island Road North between Chemawa and Lockhaven.

• Keizer Road Northeast between Verda Lane and Ridge Drive.

• Noren Avenue Northeast between Keizer Road and Dearborn.

• Manbrin Drive North west of River Road to Shoreline.

Two other sections, Sunset Avenue North from River Road to Rivercrest and Brooks Avenue from Alder to Thorman, are listed as medium priorities.

Keizer City Councilor Dan Kohler, the council liaison to the committee, asked whether it would be possible to find a source of outside funding to begin paring down the list.

That prompted something of a rebuke from David Dempster, a member of the task force, who said it seemed insincere on the part of the city to enlist volunteers to serve on committees and then require them to come up with outside funding to get any action of the issues they would like to see addressed. 

“I don’t feel confident writing grants,” Dempster said, adding that it wasn’t one of the suggested skills on the volunteer applications. “[Keizer] could have that as a policy issue that they are going to try to improve sidewalks and commit to finding a place in the budget for them. If they tried to fix a dozen every year, we would be getting more done.”

Members of the committee have applied for grants for sidewalk projects throughout the years only to find applications rejected time and again.

Jamie Davis, a newer member of the board, was undeterred and said the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments could provide assistance in writing grants. She was also willing to lead a charge.

“I would like to have a couple of people [on the committee] to sit down because we have six months of hard work that needs to get done,” she said, referencing deadlines for grants typically due by spring of each year. “If we’ve been denied before for some of these projects, let’s put them on top until we have a robust proposal that touches all parts of the city.”

The next meeting of the traffic safety committee is Thursday, Sept. 10.