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Day: February 21, 2012

We want tennis courts, group says

A local tennis group is again pushing for new courts in Keizer’s core.

About 30 people came to a Keizer City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21 to back their plan to install tennis courts at Claggett Creek Park, which stretches between Chemawa Road NE and Dearborn Avenue NE.

Councilors asked city staff to review the matter and bring back a recommendation at a future council meeting, possibly the first one in March.

The Keizer Tennis Association would take the lead in maintaining the courts, with a $50,000 investment from parks systems development charges (SDCs). Those funds have been set aside for several years, said City Manager Chris Eppley.

Their proposal is backed by the Parks Advisory Board, and two of its former members piped up in support.

“This is a project that can provide another recreational amenity for Keizer … for many people of all ages, and can be achieved with minimal funds and in the fairly immediate future,” said Garry Whalen, who was on the board when it recommended the courts.

“I like the Claggett Creek site,” said David Philbrick, another former parks board member. “It is central, convenient and easy to find.”

KTA Treasurer Barb Smith Henke said the four kids’ sites proposed in the project would be the first in the northwest. She said the Boys and Girls Club and Kennedy Elementary School have both voiced support.

Rick Hammerquist, a former president of KTA, said the courts would be of minimal cost to the city, and would also expand parking at Claggett Creek Park by about 20 spots on the Dearborn Avenue side.

“Who can turn down another free recreational opportunity for kids in Keizer?” Hammerquist said.

And Ken LeDuc said councilors could “hang their hat on” such a project, given that this is an election year.

Bob Thompson rode his bike to play tennis as a kid, and wants local children to have the same opportunity.

“I think you owe it to your kids to give them the chance to get started, and not necessarily have to be driven to another location,” Thompson said.

Councilor Jim Taylor is a fan of the idea.

“We would be very remiss if we looked a gift horse in the mouth,” Taylor said, “and here’s a group of people who are very sincere, very organized who want to do something for the people of Keizer.”

Mayor Lore Christopher wants to survey neighbors on nearby 13th Street NE before committing.

“I’m pro-tennis (and) we certainly want to get kids out there and get them moving,” Christopher said. “But we want to be respectful of people on 13th Street, who have lived there for years.”

The group has been seeking tennis courts in Keizer for years. After initially seeking a spot at Keizer Rapids Park, they shifted their focus to Claggett Creek Park. The Keizer City Council at the time was more interested in exploring options at Keizer Rapids Park, and that proposal fizzled out.

Portable storage units close to being legal for 30 days per year

KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Portable storage units will soon be legal in Keizer – for 30 days a year.

The Keizer City Council passed regulations allowing them at its February 21 meeting. The Planning Commission voted last month to allow the units up to 30 days per year. Councilors must formally approve an ordinance before the matter is final.

Such units, known by brand names like PODS (Portable On-Demand Storage) aren’t an entirely uncommon sight on Keizer streets today. Sam Litke, the city’s senior planner, said the development code simply needed to be updated.

“Because it doesn’t address (portable storage), it makes it illegal,” Litke said. “We’re trying to recognize these uses occur. it’s something technically not allowed in code, which makes for an awkward conversation.”

The units cannot be in a street or other public right-of-way (i.e. completely contained on private property) and also must be on a paved surface, like a driveway.

A proposal to allow them on some streets with the public works department’s permission was struck.

Litke explained that cars have reflective surfaces and lights that can be fairly easily spotted while driving on a public street.

“It’s clearly not vehicle shaped, it doesn’t have the reflectors on it,” Litke said. “It’s a box that’s in the road. We just felt it would be an inherent safety risk.”

That was one reason Planning Commissioner John Rizzo supported the restrictions, he said Monday night.

“Having these on the streets was an issue with me with safety … especially at night,” Rizzo said.

A month’s time seemed best to planning commissioners, Litke said.

“Thirty days seemed to the planning commission to be a reasonable amount of time to allow one of these units to show up, fill it up and schedule the pickup time,” Litke said. “It seemed, conceivably, 15 days might be pressing it for some people.”

Councilor Brandon Smith questioned why the matter was being pursued without significant resident complaints.

“It put us in kind of an untenable situation, that even though it’s a commonly-accepted practice it’s not allowed in our zoning code,” said Community Development Director Nate Brown.

Councilor Mark Caillier thought it odd that Dumpsters aren’t similarly regulated. While those large garbage bins must have a permit to be in the street, Brown said there’s no rules addressing how long those can be in driveways.

“It would seem to be a similar-sized object, and if you’ve seen my in-laws’ stuff, it could go either way,” Caillier quipped.

In other business, councilors:

• Approved recommendations for liquor licenses at 57 local establishments. The following businesses were cited for selling alcohol to minors, according to city documents:

• Albertson’s, 5450 River Road N., $990 fine paid.
• 45th Grill, 5188 Wittenberg Lane, $990 fine paid.
• Mario’s Bar, 5179 River Road N., $1,320 fine paid, ID equipment purchased
• Steam Heat Coffee House, 3860 River Road N., Ste. 101, served six-day suspension
• Town & Country Lanes, 3500 River Road N., $3,795 fine paid.
• McNary Restaurant & Lounge, 165 McNary Estates Drive N., $660.

Merchant of the Year honored for passion, light

A. Butler

This year’s Keizer Merchant of the Year would never let you assign her the credit, but it should be known: Thanks to Audrey Butler’s organizational skills, lots of Keizer families get a Christmas they otherwise couldn’t afford.

As founder of the Keizer Network of Women, a subgroup of the local chamber of commerce, she and others took on the chamber’s Giving Basket program, which selects families in need for a Christmas dinner and presents for the kids.

Butler has also been on the chamber’s board, and runs a successful Mary Kay Cosmetics business for a living. She moved to the area in 1995, and was born and raised in San Luis, Colorado.

“She single-handedly has made this gift giving campaign what it is,” said A.J. Nash, a previous award winner who helped select Butler. “She took that on about four years ago and has taken it from an idea to something high schoolers and so many other community members look forward to volunteering for, and it helps those who are less privileged have a good Christmas.”

She admitted she knew something was up when her teenage son actually wanted to spend his Saturday night at a chamber of commerce banquet. But she wasn’t sure why.

“I was shocked,” Butler said about receiving the award. “I know that I do a lot with the chamber, but there’s a lot of people who probably do more. I’m really grateful.”

She started the KNOW group for the same reason people start any business or club: She saw a need. It was a project she started outside the chamber and brought into the fold when she joined up. Starting out with eight women on board, the group now boasts 50 members.

Nash also credited Butler with coordinating New Member Coffee, a monthly get-together of new and veteran chamber members.

Rick Day, another recent Merchant of the Year, had a hand in selecting Butler and announced her award Saturday night.

“Audrey’s fantastic, extremely organized and inspires the people that work for her and serve with her on committees,” Day said, adding that KNOW has been “a great resource for support and labor for various community events.”

And imitation is the most sincere form of flattery: The Chamber now has a MAN Men group for networking.