The Keizer Rotary Club held its annual Raffle Party with a tropical theme on Saturday, April 12, at the Keizer Civic Center. More than $60,000 was raised. Vickie Jackson was the chair of the event. Melinda Parker was the winner of the grand prize of gold and silver valued at $10,000. Dennis Koho won the second place prize of a $1200 travel voucher.
By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
William Stitt was thinking of his children when he first brought up the idea of a regional play structure in Keizer.
Stitt was also thinking of his children when he recently stepped down from the Community Build Task Force that is overseeing The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park project.
Stitt, who works at Oregon Catholic Press in Portland, has been finding night meetings tough to do since his wife works at Sylvan Learning Center during the evenings. With two young sons at home, Stitt made a decision to focus on them in the evenings, not meetings.
“It’s ironic that the same reason that I approached the city (my boys) is now keeping me from attending the meetings,” Stitt said. “I guess what it comes down to is I have to do what is right for my boys and my family. I want to be there for them. If I have to bow out, it’s for the right reason. I love my boys. This is a chance to spend more time for them.”
The play structure will be built Sept. 17 to 21. Stitt, who hopes to help with the construction, noted eldest son Liam turns six on Sept. 25. Younger son Charlie is 3.
“When my wife was pregnant with Liam, I started thinking of playgrounds,” Stitt said. “The first one I saw was in Gladstone, in the Portland area. I remember thinking it was really cool. I knew what a good big play structure would look like. I’d been looking for one for my son for a while.”
Stitt then visited a Leathers and Associates-designed play structure in Oak Harbor, Wash. with a friend.
“I knew this was exactly what we would need,” Stitt said. “I was looking at Keizer Rapids Park and knew this would be the perfect spot.”
With several photos in hand, Stitt brought the idea up at a Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting in December 2012. Board members immediately latched onto the idea, especially then-chair Richard Walsh, a key figure behind the formation of KRP while on the Keizer City Council.
“I have just a tiny, tiny part in this,” Stitt said. “I introduced the city council to the idea. Richard Walsh had the same idea, he just didn’t know how to start.”
Stitt was involved with the project from the start. He was on a committee with Ron and Kim Freeman to round up volunteers and took designer Jane Lewis Holman from Leathers to the airport after Design Day was completed in November.
A few months earlier Stitt played with Liam on another play structure in Washington, an experience that cemented his reason for getting involved.
“We got to play on it by ourselves,” Stitt recalled. “We went around it a few times. He saw it as a pirate ship. I was Captain Daddy. It’s amazing to see what these things can do to kids and their imaginations. The imagination of a 5-year-old can blow you away. Something like this gives their imagination fire.”
Stitt looks forward to children in Keizer having a chance at that.
“It will be great,” he said. “I don’t know if I can quantify that. I’m really, really looking forward to the chance. As I drive by a park, I love the sound of kids playing, the imagination and joy as they play on a playground. The chance to watch kids at play is an amazing thing. As adults we lose that. I don’t get to play and be silly. This will be a great opportunity for my kids and the kids in the surrounding area.”
By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Two last steps were taken Monday evening to prepare for the auction of the Rawlins properties later this month.
During a brief Urban Renewal Agency meeting Monday evening, agents authorized the payment of Urban Renewal Funds to the city for the properties in Keizer Station Area A.
Per the settlement agreement between the city and the Rawlinses, city officials agreed to bid at the foreclosures of the two properties, which are roughly 16 acres combined.
Later during the Keizer City Council meeting, councilors approved a resolution accepting the Urban Renewal Funds.
City attorney Shannon Johnson noted the actions were in line with the ninth amendment of the Urban Renewal Plan.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a public oral auction for the properties on April 29. As mentioned previously in the Keizertimes, city officials have an obligation to bid the entire amount still owing for the properties.
“That total is approximately $7 million,” Johnson said. “Of that, $3.7 million is a cash bid while the rest is in credit. This puts us back on model.”
Councilors Dennis Koho and Jim Taylor abstained from voting due to conflicts. No other councilors made comments. In both cases motions were approved 4-0, with Kim Freeman absent.
When the settlement agreements was signed last month, Johnson said the Local Improvement District (LID) assessments against the properties were $7.1 million, while the real market value of the properties was $2.2 million combined. Johnson predicted at the time the city would “extremely likely” be the high bidder in the sheriff’s sale.
If the city is indeed the high bidder, the clock starts on the next part of the agreement. Once the sale goes through, the Rawlinses will have the opportunity to buy back the properties for $3 million between 13 and 16 months later. The purchase price increases $500,000 approximately every year, topping out at $5 million after 50 to 60 months.
In other business Monday:
• Construction did not start up as predicted on Chemawa Road Monday.
“It has been delayed a week; it will now be next Monday,” said Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer. “I’m not sure what the delay was. It’s now set for April 14, starting on the south side of the street.”
Lawyer said the delay means the Oregon Department of Transportation project will probably be done between mid-July and early August. He noted it’s “probable” Celtic Way will be closed for a while in late May due to the work. Celtic Way is the road leading to McNary High School.
• Two more committees were dissolved: the Public Education Government (PEG) Television Broadcasting Advisory Committee and the Keizer Channel 23 Advisory Committee. They join two other committees dissolved earlier this year.
The PEG committee was established in November 2003 and hasn’t met in years. However, it was never formally dissolved until Monday.
K-23 was established in January 2008 but also hadn’t met in a while. Councilors agreed both committees accomplished what they were established to do.
• The municipal judge services contract between the city and A. Carl Myers was extended for three years to June 13, 2017. Council representatives will be attending arraignments and/or hearings every year.
Myers first became city judge in 2010. Last March, the agreement was extended to the end of this June.
• Two appointments were made to committees still meeting. Kathy Lincoln was approved for a vacancy on the Traffic Safety/Bikeways/Pedestrian Committee, while Charlotte Clark was appointed to fill one of the three vacancies on the Keizer Points of Interest Committee.