By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Even before Rhonda Rich spoke, there was confusion as to whether or not she could.
Rich, president of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, came to Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting to talk about the recently altered buffer between Keizer Rapids Park and WKNA neighbors. Rich had previously hoped for a 75-foot buffer, but when councilors approved a revised KRP master plan on Nov. 3, the buffer stretching from the Willamette River to Chemawa Road was only 25 feet.
Last Saturday, Rich sent an e-mail to councilors encouraging them to look at the property and see why the bigger buffer was needed.
As Mayor Lore Christopher called Rich up during public comment at Monday’s meeting, the debate started as to whether or not comments could be made.
“The hearing on the Keizer Rapids Park master plan has been closed,” city attorney Shannon Johnson said. “It’s not a quasi-judicial process, so you’re allowed to talk among yourselves. But there’s always a concern that if testimony is taken, there would be a question of fairness.”
“I would say I really feel when you open a public hearing, you allow someone an extra bite of the apple,” she said. “People would feel we’ve given you an unfair advantage.”
Councilor Dennis Koho saw both sides of the argument.
“She can and has e-mailed us,” Koho said. “Anyone else can do the same.”
Councilor Cathy Clark noted no more testimony could be taken following the previous meeting.
“My understanding is the hearing is closed,” Clark said. “We can’t take additional information without more hearings. I would love to hear information and ideas, but we’ve been given a lot of ideas.”
Councilor Kim Freeman opined “we’ve been given the testimony,” but council president Joe Egli had a different view.
“I believe we’ve directed staff to bring back a final order,” he said. “I would love to listen to the testimony. If it changes the direction, we would have to reopen the hearing.”
Councilors Marlene Quinn and Jim Taylor both wanted to hear from Rich.
“Rhonda has the right as a citizen to come up and testify,” Taylor said. “After the public hearing last time there were changes made, which is what she’s concerned about.”
Rich noted she was speaking for WKNA, since some people had commented on the buffer to her.
“I would welcome any discussion addressing a good neighbor buffer,” she said. “We didn’t have the opportunity to discuss the 25-foot buffer. “That’s what we did ask for, for the buffer to be the whole length. I’m not asking you to change that plan.”
Rich said a pathway was set several years ago, which set the buffer at 75 to 100 feet.
“If you do the pathway, the closest point to the fence is 50 feet, so it seems like 50 feet is the distance we’d like to see,” she said. “Maybe you could reconsider what you have already.”
In other business Monday:
• Jason Bruster, a member of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, noted he is mentoring the group that is looking to do improvements at Carlson Skate Park. The subject was brought up at the Nov. 6 Parks Board meeting and was in last week’s Keizertimes.
Bruster said cracking concrete is creating holes that trip skateboards. Local youth are partnering with Lincoln City-based Dreamland Skateparks LLC with the hopes of doing maintenance work at the park, in addition to doing some new parts. Repairs are estimated at $25,000. The Parks Board has a matching grant program this year, but approving the $12,000 requested for the project would wipe out all of the funding.
“My recommendation to them is to come back with a lower request to the Parks Board and to raise a little bit more money themselves,” Bruster said. “I am going to mentor the project. We’re setting up PayPal accounts for people to give money to.”
A Facebook page for the project has been created (https://www.facebook.com/KSPRehab) and PayPal donations can be made to [email protected] Checks are payable to Bruster’s PacWest non-profit charity, with either Project Life or Skate Park in the memo line and can be mailed to PO Box 20428 Keizer, OR 97307.
• New Christmas lights are being purchased by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce this year after all – but they aren’t being put up.
Last week chamber executive director Christine Dieker and city manager Chris Eppley said the $10,000 set aside for new lights would not be spent this year, citing health and timing issues with Dave Walery, who was making the request on behalf of the chamber. A story with that information appeared in the Keizertimes’ holiday guide, which was sent out to all Keizer homes this week.
Monday’s council meeting happened after the guide went to press and included updated information on the topic. Keizer’s Mr. Christmas – aka Walery – was present and talked about the lights.
“I want to purchase the decorations, but I don’t want to put them up this year,” Walery said. “We’re not going to be able to get them done.”
• A liquor license application for Salsa Rica at 3844 River Road North was approved 5-2. New owners and applicants Dina Fuentes and Elsa Fernandez were not present; as such and following past practice, Taylor and Koho voted against the application.
The recommendation is being forwarded to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for final approval.