Clark: Keizer is rocking it

Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark delivered her seventh-annual State of the City address on Tuesday, March 15 at Keizer Civic Center, before the Keizer Chamber of Commerce. She began by acknowledging the historic challenges the community has faced as a result of the pandemic in 2020, followed by natural disasters in 2021 – pointing to Keizer’s resilience and spirit.

Mayor Cathy Clark

“We have shown, time after time, day after day – we are here today and we landed on our feet, and that’s because all of you decided we weren’t going to try and do this alone,” said Clark. “Keizer is rocking it.”

An ongoing investigation prevented Clark from discussing details surrounding the resignation of former City Manager Chris Eppley during last year’s annual address.

“We now know the outcome, with Chris Eppley separating at the end of March,” she said.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank Chris Eppley for his 17 years of service to the people of Keizer – projects from Keizer Station to Keizer Rapids all came to fruition during his tenure as city manager … I want to thank you, the people of Keizer, for treating all people with dignity and respect,” she added.

When Eppley stepped down at the end of March, the city’s Finance Manager, Tim Wood, stepped up as city manager pro tempore.

“And he did it during budget season,” remarked the mayor, as she thanked Wood for his help in getting the most recent budget approved. “Seriously. That was a humungous lift.”

She also thanked former Albany city manager Wes Hare, who has been serving Keizer as an interim city manager while a permanent replacement was selected. That replacement, former Ontario, Ore. City Manager Adam Brown and his family are expected to arrive April 25.

Clark pointed out that Brown had applied to be assistant city manager many years ago, and that his experience dovetails well with the city’s future plans.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Adam and his family to Keizer,” she said.

Clark spent the rest of her time addressing the “two-year work plan” that had been put together for the first time this year, and how things currently stand.

“Every city does this kind of thing … but what has been evolving over the past few years is the fact that there are certain projects that should be conducted by, and led by, the city council itself,” said Clark. “We adopted a work plan, and we made a list of the things we wanted to get done.”

Clark said the Parks Master Plan will be finalized and adopted on March 21, at which time they will begin work on the capital improvement projects the plan identified.

“We want to grow our parks system – 19 parks, 250 acres – into what we need, and what our children’s children will need for the future.”

She also noted the completion of a Community Diversity Engagement Committee work group, whose work will produce future recommendations for projects to the council, adding that Keizer had a thriving youth engagement program even before the diversity council began their study.

“Even before the Diversity Engagement committee began meeting, we already had a set of programs underway for youth involvement and recognition,” she added, thanking the various student liaisons for their work. She also praised the students participating in the Heritage Center art display and asked Keizer residents to continue encouraging the youth’s volunteer ethic.

“We’ve long-had a police cadet program, and we’ve been hiring, from that, full-time officers … talk about knowing the community you work in,” she said. “There are some officers who are joining now that – I remember when they were born.”

Clark also discussed the city’s adoption of a new, formal rules and procedures guide, and said the city will begin work next month, in earnest, on adapting the new Oregon House Bill 2001 housing density legislation into the city’s current zoning codes and rules.

The mayor briefly discussed the American Recovery and Prosperity Act (ARPA) funding.

“Keizer received $8.8 million – we’ve already spent $1.3 million on projects for this fiscal year,” she explained. “These are things we need, from infrastructure to a well, and other nuts and bolts projects that need to get done.”

“This is really a weird place for us,” she said. “We’re used to operating on a shoestring … having this much money is strange, but do we know how to spend it right? You bet we do. We have robust conversations not just about how those dollars are spent, but how they are invested to get the best ROI (return on investment) for the people of Keizer.”

Clark said the council was keeping the budget line items flexible as they continued to work through the process of allocating the funds.

She finished the address by touching on some of the items from the long-range planning committee, including the construction of a new well to replace a malfunctioning one and budgeting for the city police needs.