By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Poison oak has been found on property next to part of the Keizer Little League Park complex.
City Manager Chris Eppley and Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer, both said city officials learned of the issue Thursday morning, May 29.
“We were informed this morning that there was an issue with some poison oak near the northwest corner of the Little League complex,” Lawyer said Thursday afternoon. “Parks staff investigated the issue right away and determined there is some poison oak from a neighboring property hanging over onto the park property. Parks staff installed temporary construction fencing to keep people out of the area.”
Eppley said the tree is next to the t-ball field at KLL Park.
“The property owner (the Epping Group) has been contacted and requested to remedy the situation right away,” Eppley said. “We can’t spray chemicals or trim trees that aren’t on public property and trimming the limbs that overhang the park wouldn’t solve the issue.”
Word spread Thursday on Facebook, prompting at least two Portland TV stations to come to KLL Park for a story.
“We took action on what we could do,” Lawyer said. “This is a neighbor’s responsibility. Poison oak is not easy to get rid of.”
Stephanie Bojorquez, president of the Keizer Little League organization that recently took over management of the park, said an angry coach who refused to give his name asked her why the issue hadn’t been dealt with. In turn, Bojorquez contacted the city overnight. She noted Robert Johnson, parks supervisor for the city, had the temporary fence up around 9 a.m. Thursday.
“Robert told me the tree is huge,” Bojorquez said. “It’s not a bush anymore, it’s a tree so you wouldn’t think it was poison oak. It was hanging over. It’s too big.”
Bojorquez, who has been exposed to the poison oak twice in recent weeks herself, is looking at moving players to avoid the problem.
“It’s growing like mad,” she said. “Bill and Robert told me we shouldn’t have to move anyone. But I feel like I want to move them, just to be safe.”