A new era for city parks: Recreational programs?

Keizer Public Works is preparing to ask the residents of the city a question that its director couldn’t have fathomed even a few years ago. 

“We want to know what people in the city would want out of a recreation program,” said Bill Lawyer, director of Keizer Public Works, which manages the city’s parks.

The Keizer City Council approved a contract for updating Keizer’s Parks Master Plan at its meeting Monday, Oct. 14. Over the coming months, the city will be seeking input from residents on the needs they see in their local parks and what they would like to see in a city-sponsored recreation program. 

A parks services fee approved by the city council in 2017 has been a boon to local parks in town. The additional funding has permitted updates of paths and equipment throughout the system. The city is still catching up on a long to-do list, but Lawyer can now see the day when a recreation program are within reach. 

“The parks services fee allows us to do things and consider doing things I never dreamed we would be able to do,” Lawyer said. “It’s exciting to be part of that.”

As to what form a recreation program would take, he’s almost entirely open. 

“It might be programs for adults and kids and it could range from classes to more athletic interests,” Lawyer said. “The only thing I would rather the city not get involved in is running youth sports programs.” 

The personnel capacity running a youth sports program would entail probably still lies outside the city’s grasp – even if inter-league politics weren’t a factor.

While running sports leagues might be out of the question, Keizer Little League (KLL) Park will be brought into Keizer’s parks planning for the first time since it was constructed. It means KLL Park will be eligible for more direct city funding when it comes to upkeep and improvements, and Lawyer would like to know from residents how to balance spending there in relation to other spaces. 

The master plan update process is scheduled to run through April and Lawyer wants to take advantage of surveys, input at parks board meetings and, he hopes, some in-person gatherings if the pandemic can be contained in the near future. 

Portland-based Mig Inc. was awarded the contract with the city. The cost is $79,993.