By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The contentious issue of management of Keizer Little League Park was being discussed like any normal item by the Keizer City Council on Monday.
That was no easy task, considering a split within Keizer Little League (KLL) led to the formation of the Keizer Youth Sports Association (KYSA) in 2008, with the new group taking over management of the youth baseball complex.
That is, until one item led councilor Jim Taylor to lash out against KYSA leaders.
“Children shouldn’t be running children’s programs,” Taylor said following the meeting.
In the fall, leaders from both KYSA and KLL responded to the city’s Request For Proposals (RFP) for management of the facility. A committee of five unanimously selected the KLL proposal, in large part because the KYSA proposal was felt to be incomplete. KYSA president Kurt Barker made an accusation at November’s Keizer Parks Board meeting committee members were biased against KYSA.
At Monday’s meeting, councilors discussed the topic before unanimously awarding the contract to KLL. The contract will run for one year, with two additional one-year options.
One aspect of city manager Chris Eppley’s report to the city council caused ears to perk up.
“KYSA arguably owns the equipment and has removed it,” Eppley said. “We’ll buy a mower and store it down there.”
Mayor Lore Christopher picked up on that.
“So KYSA has taken the equipment?” Christopher asked, getting an affirmative answer from Eppley.
“We’ll replace the maintenance equipment like the mower and rakes,” Eppley said. “I doubt we’ll replace equipment from the concession stand. We will require KLL to find concession equipment.”
Councilor Jim Taylor, who had been on the five-person committee recommending KLL, asked if the city had KYSA’s keys to the facility.
“No,” city attorney Shannon Johnson said. “Kurt Barker said they are still moving stuff out.”
Barker, sitting in the audience along with KYSA baseball director Scott Kaiser, said that wasn’t the case.
“You have the keys,” Barker said. “You’ve had them all year long.”
Johnson turned back to Taylor.
“That hasn’t been worked out,” Johnson said.
Taylor spoke about being on the committee.
“I was not an advocate for either program,” Taylor said. “I was an advocate for the park. Going by the RFP, I had to look at who answered the questions. That’s how I did it. I just want to make that clear.”
Christopher opined items at the concession stand should have stayed.
“The way it should have always been, things in the concession stand will be city property,” she said. “It should have always been that way.”
Kaiser nor Barker had much to say after the meeting.
“Decisions were made,” Kaiser said. “We’ll see how it turns out. Now there is money available (to buy equipment). It’s unbelievable.”
Taylor, however, had plenty to say afterwards.
“To take all their equipment only hurts one thing and that’s the youth of Keizer,” an angry Taylor growled. “I’m not getting into the legalities of it, I’m not an attorney, but it’s unconscionable to do that to the kids, unconscionable to do that to the taxpayers of Keizer and all the people who helped pay for that stuff.
“It’s going to cost the taxpayers indirectly to help support that down there because they have chosen to take the equipment, which they have no use for,” Taylor added. “They’ve taken stuff out of concession stand, which they have no use for.”
By Tuesday morning, Taylor was even more livid.
“The people in Keizer need to know how (KYSA leaders) are acting,” Taylor said in an interview with the Keizertimes. “They are just being children. Apparently they took out the ice machine. It’s beyond me how anyone could be that childish and vindictive over something they caused. This was their doing. They caused it.
“They did not answer the RFP,” Taylor added. “Chris called Kurt when he received the RFP, wondering if he had left some pages out. Chris gave him a chance to add on because it was incomplete. Kurt never returned that call. This was their doing. Then to get mad and start ripping out things is unconscionable It only hurts the kids and Keizer. I’m just dumbfounded.”
Taylor noted his long involvement with youth sports.
“There’s no bigger supporter of youth baseball in Keizer than I am,” he said. “I’ve been around the block and done a lot. It’s all about the kids. They’re not all about the kids. It’s very obvious. We don’t want to do business with people who don’t want to do it for the right reason.”