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Day: August 12, 2011

Reimagining the American Dream

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Foreclosed Project
The MoMA Foreclosed project imagines dense housing (pictured above) in the area that would allow resurrected green spaces to dominate. (Submitted by WORKac)


Of the Keizertimes

When architects Sam Dufaux and Michael Etzel were tasked by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) with re-envisioning Keizer Station, they came up with a scathing indictment of Keizer as it currently exists: bedroom community, not very diverse, aging, little local dynamic.

Whether or not residents agree with that assessment is beside the point because the re-envisioning is less about the specifics of the Keizer Station and more about what it means to alter the previous conceptions of the American Dream. Keizer Station is one of five sites around the country selected for MoMA’s Foreclosed project that sets back the clock to the height of the Great Recession in 2008 and asks artists, in this case, a braintrust of architects, economists, ecologists, civil engineers, structural engineers and members of the ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, how they would challenge the traditional takes on the American Dream at a time when its’ underpinning ideas became unstable. The resulting exhibit will open in January 2012 in MoMA’s New York City gallery.

“The crisis is financial, but it’s also a crisis of us not being able to reimagine what things could be like,” said Dufaux, an associate with New York City’s WORK Architecture Company, commissioned with the project.

As the barriers to entry into the American Dream – interpreted as a house in the suburbs – rise, the Foreclosed project tackles the question of “what if” we could dream a bit differently. The suburb was built on the notion of the nuclear family that lived and worked within a relatively small geographic area, but, in the past 50 years, as ring upon ring of suburb spirals out into all the space zoning codes permit, residents of the suburbs are increasingly remote from the places where they work.

“The drive everywhere for cheaper and cheaper things mentality is unsustainable. It’s getting more crowded and a huge portion of the income goes into transportation,” Dufaux said.

“The American Dream is almost a mythology and you have to expose what’s going on within it and latch onto those things and build new things around it,” Etzel added. Etzel is an New York-based architect supplying boots-on-the-ground knowledge, a result of having lived in Keizer until 1992.

If their take seems different that is the point.

“It’s gotta be a little bit radical and slice through the American Dream a little bit,” Etzel said.

Their ideas for a new neighborhood in the place of the existing Keizer Station retail development push the boundaries of contemporary American architecture, while preserving or reinstating elements of Keizer’s history. One of the biggest changes included in their reimagining would be to refill Labish Lake, which once straddled what is now Interstate 5, and resurrect acres of oak savanna. The lake was drained in the 1930s to make way for onion farming.

“The way we think about land is skewed, we think of value in terms of size and there’s a quality of land that goes way beyond what is traditionally taken into account,” Dufaux said. “And everyone we’ve talked to chooses to live here because of the natural beauty. So, when we started the project, we decided we wanted to have the city at the front door and the country at the back door.”

The Museum of Modern Art project crew has developed a reimagining of what Keizer Station might have been. Designs include four extensions of existing subdivisions call for reclaiming of natural spaces. (Submitted by WORKac)

About midway through the project, the Keizer site design team’s current plan would call for four extensions of current Keizer subdivisions into the Keizer Station acreage comprised of between three and six city blocks. The focus is on dense diversity of housing types, sometimes with multistory housing stacked on more multistory housing, and communal green space rather than private yards. It would house the projected growth of Keizer through 2030, or about 13,000 additional people.

“We want to create a gradient from the more private single house to a more communal type of housing,” Dufaux said.

Taking a cue from Keizer’s 438 existing cul de sacs, each of the four neighborhood extensions would end in a large communal space such as a school or church. Other spaces are dedicated to playing fields.

“Cul de sacs are fun when it becomes a public space, almost like a small town square,” Etzel said.

Each block would also include smaller entertainment, retail and business spaces than exist in in the current Keizer Station. The design includes sustainability aspects intended to cut down on waste and create jobs.

“Using waste within the community creates really close, high-paying infrastructure jobs that closes the loop in a different way,” Etzel said.

An early draft of the concept that the project is bringing to life as a model. (Submitted by WORKac)

Each space is designed to attract a diversity of residents, and community programming arises from the design of the neighborhood itself, which addresses some of those aforementioned not-so-enticing traits of the current Keizer community.

“If you design public spaces for a specific reason, instead of just an open green space, you’ll attract a diverse population,” Eztel said.

While no one involved in the project expects Keizer Station to be razed and rebuilt as a Eurostyle community of the future, the project is meant to be more of a conversation-starter and for designers and architects to borrow ideas for use in other places.

“We want it to resonate with people and start them thinking about what’s possible. It’s something that could really be done. Our hope is we’ve made simple and with a clarity to it that they say, ‘why not?’” Dufaux said.

Knights take third

Alex Alvarado walks back to the dish after conferring with Andy Bevens

While the outcome wasn’t what was hoped for, the Keizer Knights still finished third in the Pacific Northwest Babe Ruth Regional Tournament that concluded at Volcanoes Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6.

The Knights opened against Idaho and cruised to an 8-0 shutout victory.  Mound Time, from Beaverton, stymied the Knights 12-1 in their second game.  The Knights recovered against the Willamette Valley All-Stars from the Eugene/Springfield area winning 17-8 and polished off Wyoming 19-4 to finish pool play with a record of 3-1, good enough for the  No. 2 seed in championship backets, when the best four teams played in a single-elimination with the winner advancing to the Babe Ruth World Series in Virginia.

The Knights dropped their Saturday game against Kelso by the score of 7-1, ending their hopes of advancing further.

“Only two teams in the Pacific Northwest, went further than the Knights did,” said Jerry Walker, the team’s head coach. “The team can be proud of their accomplishments.”

Mickey Walker led the Knights hitting .500 during the tournament with back-to-back four-hit games and eight runs scored. Hayden Gosling hit .444 and Alex Alvarado rounded out the top three hitting .385.  Andy Bevens led the team in pitching and was responsible for a complete game shutout over Idaho.

Mound Time won the tournament with a thrilling last inning comeback to beat Kelso 10-9, earning the right to represent the Pacific Northwest at the World Series.

Netters pack volleyball camp

Left: Kaylinn Love digs for the ball during drills; Right: Coach Bianca Arevalo gets into the action as the eigtht graders play Queen of the Court. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

About 85 athletes turned out for McNary High School’s summer volleyball camp this week.

The camps for intermediate and advanced players focused on ball-handling skills, traditional drills and moved into court strategy as the week progressed.

Successful camp enrollments are more pivotal now as the programs at McNary face cuts to their budgets for tournament fees.


Fixing Keizer one light at a time

Portland General Electric was all over two burned-out streetlights reported to us last week at via our See Click Fix feature.

Our neighbors on Dee Court and on Northtree Drive NE can now better see their street – and criminals have one less dark place to operate – thanks to light repairs in the past week, both performed by Portland General Electric.

A shout-out to Jenniffer Warner in the City of Keizer’s Public Works Department for her help in determining which agency was responsible.

Meanwhile, high shrubs at Rivercrest Drive N. and Dennis Lane N. have been reported to us by several residents. We’ve sent it on to the City of Keizer’s Codes Enforcement division, who will look into it. You may recall budget cuts forced the city to lay off its lone full-time codes enforcement officer, so this could take a little time. However, city staff plan to look at the issue and see if the shrubs do not fit city regulations.

You can point out problem areas throughout Salem-Keizer at Additional issues reported to us include:

• Burned-out street light at 5057 Briarwood Circle N.

• A bumpy manhole in front of Shari’s on River Road in Keizer.

• Potholes on Wallace Road NW in west Salem.

• Shrubbery-obstructed intersection at the Jiffy Lube entrance near Walmart on Lancaster Drive NE.

• A not-so-well-placed picnic table at Wallace House Park the complainant says has become a homeless haven.

Dollars for tourists

The rush for tourism in Keizer needs to slow down before it gets completely out of control.  Cooler and more sensible heads need to be engineering this speeding train.

The Urban Renewal Agency kicked the issue of spending the public’s money on a tourist/visitor’s center back to the Keizer Urban Renewal Board.  We don’t know what that’s supposed to accomplish.

The Keizer Urban Renewal Agency (comprised of all seven city councilors) unanimously approved the addition of a visitors center as a use for urban renewal dollars.  Up to half a million dollars could be appropriated by the Agency in the future to fund a visitors center at the planned Transit Center at Keizer Station that Salem Area Transit will start constructing next year.  No money has yet been earmarked for a visitor center.

Instead of spending the precious few dollars left in the urban renewal fund on a visitors center, all in the name of economic development, the money should be spent on areas of the city that need it now.

The Keizer Urban Renewal Board (KURB) is becoming more aggressive in seeking out properties to improve along the city’s main thoroughfare as part of the River Road Renaissance Project.  That’s where money will do good now.

Reasonable people can disagree about the role tourism could play in the economy of Keizer.  Our city, as much as we and its residents love it, is just not a tourist destination.  Spending money to get tourists to come into our city limits to pick up brochures for other regional attractions is not a good use of urban renewal money.

Though tourism is a multi-billion a year business in Oregon, it is not coming to Keizer.  Tourists from out of state  traveling by on the interstate may pull off at the Chemawa interchange to go to Keizer Station  if they see the signs of the brands they know such as Burger King, McDonald’s or Starbucks.  As for getting those travelers to explore all the way down the center of Keizer?  That’s always going to be a hard task.

The effort needs to be reach out to those people who come to Keizer for an hour or a day, those who are coming to Keizer by design:  going to a sports event, one of community festivals, visit friends and family or attend a conference at the hotel or the civic center.  We should spend our money and efforts to finish the beautification of River Road which should, finally, include banners on every single power pole from the south end of town to the north end of town.

We need to show visitors they are in a city that takes pride in itself. Urban Renewal dollars should be used to place colorful banners on every utility pole.  Each should simply say: “Keizer.  Iris Capital of the World.”  People would know they are someplace special.  When you are someplace special you stay a little longer and spend money.  Or you want to move to a special place.  That’s economic development.

Visitor center location

Mayor Lore Christopher jumped at the opportunity to partner with Salem Area Transit to place a visitors center at the transit center planned for Keizer Station.  Travelers coming off the freeway will have to tangle with large and small buses as they move in and out of the center.  We should make it as easy for visitors as possible.

We think dropping the idea of visitors center at the Transit station in favor of a more visible location on Lockhaven Drive in Area C would be a better idea.

The developers of Area C could partner with the city to build a  visitors center that faces Lockhaven Drive.  It would be more visible and, more importantly, be easy for travelers to get to. Instead of dodging buses, travelers would be in a retail area from which it is easy to return to the freeway or drive into the heart of Keizer.

Visitors and agriculture

Agriculture (especially our famed hops) is often cited as Keizer’s untapped engine for economic development. Those seeking to attract new business should be working to recruit brewers to our city.  We have acres and acres of hops in our backyard plus some of the finest water in the state of Oregon.

Breweries with tasting rooms or lounges attract the type of consumer business want: young professionals. All one need do is visit a Rogue Ale or Red Hook to see that is true.

The city is not poised to attract this kind of business.  It would be a good endeavor for those groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, who work for economic development, to extol Keizer as the perfect location for breweries. Boutique breweries could pop up around Keizer Station or even along River Road to take advantage of our treasured natural resources.

The busiest interchange?

It has often been said that the Chemawa-I-5 interchange is the busiest in Oregon.  We have yet to see that claim backed up with statistics.  Even if it is heavily traveled one has to differentiate between the two exits at Chemawa:  one is onto Chemawa-Lockhaven, the other is onto the Salem Parkway, the main arterial taking south-bound freeway travelers westward to Spirit Mountain Casino and the Oregon beaches.

The interchange may be busy but let’s realize that a lot of that traffic consists of Keizer residents.  It does not translate into thousands of tourists.

The best opportunity to capture some of their dollars is with the businesses at Keizer Station. That effort does not benefit the merchants in Keizer’s core. The city has no say in what brands open at the Station, that is private enterprise.

In the state our national economy will be in for quite some time, let’s use our money wisely.  Let’s spend what little money that is available to make River Road a place that our own residents want to patronize and that short-time visitors will find attractive and inviting.

By finishing the River Road Renaissance Project, adding banners on every utility pole and building a small visitors kiosk in Area C, we’ll have a comprehensive plan to develop our economic on a more sensible scale in which everyone wins.


Is America going to make it?


I’m actually starting to wonder if the United States of America is going to survive.

It’s not because of Standard and Poor’s downgrade. Anyone who seriously thinks the United States is a AAA credit risk has to be a heroin addict. I’m convinced the only reason the rating agencies have maintained the gold-plated-rating fantasy all these years was political pressure. S&P just became a little less willing to indulge the delusion.

The reason for my burgeoning fear is the way the political class reacted to the news. David Axelrod and John Kerry were telling everyone who would listen over the past weekend that this is the “tea party downgrade.” I guess that’s because tea party types precipitated the debt ceiling showdown in the first place by insisting that conditions be placed on letting the government borrow more money.

Republicans, of course, wanted to make sure everyone knew this was the Obama downgrade.

And of course, those sympathetic to the president have declared all-out war on S&P, which is certainly a flawed organization in many ways —as are the other rating agencies —but what did S&P do here? It said what everyone with a brain in their head understands, which is that America’s spending and borrowing is way, way, way out of control, and there can be no pretending that an entity that behaves like this is a good credit risk.

Seriously, that’s controversial?

I fear for this nation’s future because the political class appears entirely incapable of dealing seriously with this problem. I feel like a broken record reciting these numbers again and again:

The national debt: $14 trillion (our entire GDP is only $14.3 trillion);

Projected new debt by 2021: $8 trillion to $10 trillion;

Unfunded entitlement obligations: $58 trillion to $70 trillion.

Where on Earth are we going to get all that money? I’ll save you the trouble of thinking about it. Nowhere. There isn’t that much money on the face of the Earth.

China, which we are begging to keep buying our government-backed securities, is now lecturing us about how much we’re spending on social welfare and the military. Meanwhile, the dignitaries in Washington act like they deserve battle pay because they just had a fight to the death over whether to reduce the accumulation of new debt by 20 percent or 30 percent.

People. Please. Do you understand the seriousness of this problem?

I’m probably asking the wrong people the wrong question, because serious problems require serious problem-solvers—people who can define a task, an objective and the action steps necessary to achieve the objective.

The maddening thing is that this problem is solvable. You look at the numbers. You look at the long-term commitments that produced the numbers. My point here is not to get into the details of what should be done. The point, though, is that there are people who know how to solve problems like this. In the business world there are turnaround specialists who are asked to take over failing companies. They make difficult but necessary decisions, and often the companies are saved.

I know there are some exceptions, but as a general proposition, America’s political class is not serious about solving this problem. It is only interested in rhetorical nonsense. It doesn’t matter whether this is the tea party downgrade or the Obama downgrade. It matters what you’re going to do about it.

These clowns don’t have the slightest idea. They think exploding the debt a little less than they were originally planning is actually progress.

But that alone is not the entire reason I fear for America’s future. I fear for it because the electorate has not yet demonstrated its understanding of the problem, or of the fact that, with leaders like this, we are finished.

If we’re as unserious about the debt explosion in 10 years as we appear to be now, why should any number of states—especially those rich in natural resources but not able to extract them because of federal restrictions—stay in the union and accept their share of the debt obligations Washington presumes to impose on them?

I’m sure this sounds like extreme speculation, but the federal government cannot keep embracing this kind of fantasy economics without reaching the point where the people will no longer assent to be governed in such a manner.

What I’m envisioning is far less absurd than what our leaders are doing today.

North Star Writers Group

The only options from Congress?

To the Editor:

Why not look for some other ways to reduce the national debt and increase revenue?  If taxes and spending cuts are all these high powered members of Congress can come up with – they are overpaid and in over their heads.

Here is just one idea off the cuff; establish a national lottery or raffle with funds dedicated to paying off the debt. Say 60% to debt reduction and 40% to infrastructure. As the debt is reduced, change the percentages to fund other programs such as healthcare, education, FAA, food safety, etc.

Our small state of Oregon brings in over 50 million dollars a month from its lottery.  My wild guess is that a national lottery could bring in about 500 million a month?

On the side of taxes, make everybody a patriot!  Every working citizen should pay something to federal taxes. I keep hearing that some 50% of Americans pay no federal taxes.  Everybody benefits, everybody should contribute to be a respected citizen. How about earn less than $25K pay 5%. Earn 50K – pay 10%, Earn 75K – pay 15%. Earn $100K – pay 20%. Earn 100K – $250K – pay 25%. Earn $250 – 500K pay 30%. Earn more than $500 pay 35%. No loop holes!

How about ending subsidies for all profitable companies?  Why should U.S. Taxpayer hard earned money go to pay profitable corporations?  Does anybody pay you for making a profit? This is ridiculous. Any member of Congress who continues to support this must be booted out!

Any yes, how about asking the American Pubic how to save money and raise revenue?  We still have some cents!

John P. Rizzo

Visitors Center

To the Editor:

Don’t get me wrong, I love Keizer.

I have been a resident here for 40 plus years, but $500,000 dollars for a Visitors Center? To where? Keizer Station?

When some of our kids have to walk along some very busy streets to get to school?

Come on, get real!

Carol Doerfler

Keizer needs a theme attraction

To the Editor:

In the last two issues of the Keizertimes it was clear to me the mayor and city council are looking for ways to get for more income for the town’s coffers.

We have seen the mayor and councilors trying new taxes (cellphone tax) but have it shot down by the citizens of Keizer and Big Business (when you have people that are paid to collect signatures that come around and you are asked in English, Spanish and Russian, it’s Big Business).

The search for new ways to bring in more money make me question the thinking behind it all. Some things make it look like they are trying rob Peter to pay Paul and some things like another parade, putting themselves in more debt.

Keizer is being changed from a quiet bedroom community to everything that made people come here in the first place. Tourism is the latest idea but with tourism comes more traffic. Perhaps we could try for seasonal tourism like Ashland as there is no real natural attractions here. Ashland has Shakespeare, Laguna Beach, CA has the Pageant of the Masters, and Lily Dale, NY has the Summer of Psychics. So what could Keizer come up with that is not already out there?

I had thought of a Walton’s Festival but we don’t have a mountain, so my idea is a Ma and Pa Kettle Festival. They could start it off with the original Broadway play “The Egg and I”.  This would be a great thing

for the students of  McNary High School’s drama department.

How about asking the people of Keizer for ideas.

I must say I would really like a Lily Dale West.

Peter DeBeck