City Council supports rail service

There were no public hearings at the Feb. 6 Keizer City Council meeting but some decisions were made including sending a letter of support for a bill for possible rail service to the Portland area.

Mark Ottenad, public/government affairs director for the City of Wilsonville, appeared before the council urging Keizer to join other regional cities to send a letter of support for House Bill 2662 which would fund a $500,000 feasibility study of extending the Westside Express Service rail from Wilsonville to Keizer and Salem. 

Ottenad explained what an extension could be. If HB 2662 is approved, the study, which would be due by the fall of 2024, would investigate the need and the logistics of using the Portland and Western track.

The cities of Salem, Woodburn and Donald have already sent letters of support of the proposed legislation sponsored by state Rep. Courtney Neron of Wilsonville.

The council approved support for the legislation. A letter will be prepared for Mayor Cathy Clark’s signature.

In other council action:

• Mayor Clark proclaimed February as Black History Month in Keizer, which “celebrates rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities.” The 2023 theme is Black Resistance.

• Felicia Squires gave a Public Arts Commission report. Kim Steen has been elected chair of the commission. Squires announced that art work of city employee Art Madrid will be hung on the civic center’s foyer walls through March. Madrid works in the public works department.

• Jamie Davis, chair of the Traffic Safety-Bikeways-Pedestrian Committee, gave a report of what the group had accomplished in 2022. She was followed by committee member Hersch Sangster. Davis told the council that the city’s neighborhood associations were engaged with the committee’s work, including planning a bike rodeo in 2023 and planning more bike racks and  bike repair stations. The committee is also addressing slowing traffic on Delight Street N. near Cummings Elementary School. 

Sangster said funds were needed for the bike helmet project, which has given out about 6,000 kids and adult helmets since the programs inception.

Councilor Daniel R. Kohler put $100 cash on the dais in front of him for helmets. Councilor Laura Reid and Kyle Juran matched him.

• Colleen Busch, a Keizer Fire District board director, gave a report. The fire district has started the process of hiring a new fire chief. The district is establishing a partnership with Marion County Fire District to share one Human Resources director. Busch also shared that the district had started planning its 75th anniversary celebration, scheduled for May. The district will have three board seats up for election in the May primary and a levy ballot measure is scheduled for November.

• The city’s finance director, Tim Wood, announced that people who live in the south end of Keizer can use all the water they want, while those who north should still conserve use for another month. Water rates are based on usage in December and January. Wood cautioned for water use conservation last fall during those months to help households keep rates down. On city budget issues, Wood said the long-range planning meeting will be held on March13 and annual budget meetings will be held on May 8 and 9.