City’s public works in good hands with Bill Lawyer

“Turn on your water faucet. You don’t know what it takes to keep the water running.”

So said Bill Lawyer, public works director for the city, noting that people often take city services for granted. He then admitted that he often took for granted other services that the city provides.

Lawyer has worked for the city for 33 years, the last 10 as public works director.

“As the city grew,” he told the Keizertimes, “I grew along with it.”

Leading the list of current department projects, he said, is the soccer field at Keizer Rapids Park. The project consists of two artificial turf fields, lighting for the fields, parking lots for about 200 vehicles, fencing around the fields, a storage building, landscaping and bleachers.

The city will advertise for bids for storm drain realignment in late winter or early spring and start the project in late spring. It will relocate a failing 36-inch pipeline from behind the sidewalk into the street and reduce the pipe to 10 inches, as there is no need for a 36-inch pipe there.

Other projects will be installing a water filter plant at the Meadows pump station, resurfacing Cherry Avenue with an update of the corner ramps for Americans with Disability Act compliance, and a pedestrian signal upgrade at Sam Orcutt Way.

After taking over the Public Works Department, Lawyer reorganized it into divisions. The superintendent position, which he had held before becoming director, was discontinued,  and Lawyer said the department has been working well ever since. Another change, he said, has been increasing regulations, mainly relating to drinking water testing and stormwater regulation.

Projects down the road, he said, are repaving Verda Lane from Dearborn Avenue down to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, wetland enhancement of the east side of Claggett Creek, adding a storage facility to the Keizer Community Center, a police evidence storage building for long-term storage of cars involved with crimes, and realigning Claxter Road to line it up with Alder Drive.

The last would move Claxter Road somewhat south and would require purchasing one property that includes a house. It would make Verda Lane safer by converting two “T” intersections with Verda Lane into one “cross” intersection that would include a left turn lane for northbound Verda Lane to turn west onto Alder Drive.

This last project has grant funding of $4.8 million from the Oregon Department of Transportation. The total cost would be $5.5 million, and the city will seek additional grant funding as soon as the project design is far enough along for the design team to refine the estimate.