Limits on park study input draw criticism

Even before it got off the ground, the plans for updating the city’s parks master plan came under fire from residents.

Residents took aim primarily at the scaled back level of community participation, but even the phrasing of an online survey came under attack at a meeting of the Keizer Parks Advisory Board Tuesday, Dec 8.

Carol Doerfler requested that the study be delayed or postponed until in-person meetings could be held for providing input.

“The pandemic will have an impact on the community’s ability to provide input and it’s the same people providing the fee that make (improvements) possible,” Doerfler said.

If inadequate participation becomes an issue the coordinators of the study will look at extending the deadlines, replied Keizer Public Works Director Bill Lawyer, who will help oversee the process with Keizer Parks Supervisor Robert Johnson.

The city has hired consultants from Portland-based MIG to assist in the process.

Carolyn Holman said the questions contained in an online survey were too skewed to represent the full number of possibilities when it comes to recreating in Keizer parks.

“In the questions, there seems to be a division between beauty and nature, and some of that depends on an interpretation, but I find the beauty in natural spaces,” Holman said.

Later in the evening a representative from MIG, Cindy Mendoza, MIG’s Director of Parks and Recreation, said the goal of the survey is to get at least 400 respondents from the community to ensure a representative group. The survey regarding Keizer parks had more than 240 in the first week.

Holman and her husband, Tom encouraged the city to rethink the questions to allow for a greater variety of recreational possibilities.

Tom suggested installing public art walls within parks and inviting members of the community to use them as canvases.

“I think you could leave it up to the people involved as to how to run the programs, but there would have to be some ground rules and the participants taking part in the upkeep,” Tom said.

Committee member Dylan Juran endorsed the idea of a more expansive interpretation of recreation.

“I don’t think it was that long ago that having a dog park or skate park would have been an outrageous idea. In that regard, I don’t think (an art wall is) an outrageous idea.”

Residents can fill out the park survey at: Survey participants are automatically entered to win a $50 gift card.