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Day: December 17, 2014

Council looks at completion of goals

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Incoming members of the Keizer City Council were ready to talk about goals.

It appeared they weren’t going to get the chance, since a majority of current councilors weren’t present.

A work session was planned for Monday, allowing current and incoming councilors alike the chance to review the 2013 to 2015 city council goals, while also looking ahead to ideas for 2015 to 2017 council goals.

The problem was only three current councilors – Joe Egli, Cathy Clark and Kim Freeman – were present, one short of a quorum.

After waiting 20 minutes, Egli announced the meeting was canceled due to the lack of a quorum. Moments later councilor Dennis Koho strolled in, so the meeting was on.

Much of the meeting consisted of Keizer City Manager Chris Eppley going over both short-term and long-term goals approved by councilors in March 2013, with a summary of the progress made on each of the goals.

For example, the first goal was unfreezing one to four police officer positions. Eppley noted recruitment is going on for a new officer as well as a forensic computer position.

“The previous chief would have said we need 15 or more (new) cops,” Eppley said of former chief Marc Adams. “The current chief (John Teague) feels two more are necessary. We may need to re-discuss about that before adding more police officers.”

Eppley said developing a sustainable code enforcement strategy is complete, with interviews to fill the position taking place this week. Developing a sustainable community center management strategy is mostly complete, though the funding structure still needs to be reevaluated.

While a Keizer Rapids Park master plan update has been completed, Eppley noted a proposed update for Keizer Little League Park isn’t.

“That update is not necessary anymore,” Eppley said. “One reason to do it was to assess future improvements to see what would be available for SDC (system development charges) funding. It’s already been developed, so it’s not going to be eligible for SDCs. I would suggest that one is complete.”

Eppley noted merger talks between Keizer Little League (KLL) and Keizer Youth Sports Association (KYSA) have stalled, though the two could merge softball programs in the spring.

“Ideally you would have a third-party group not associated with baseball run that park,” Eppley said. “It would be an independent third party, whose sole interest is the facility alone and when it’s used. There has been talk of KLL and KYSA having a third party, maybe having people like Clint Holland, people who don’t have a dog in the fight.”

Eppley said the short-term goal of Urban Growth Boundary expansion isn’t a short-term goal anymore.

“That’s probably the biggest issue facing council over the next 20 years,” he said.

According to Eppley, regular meetings with Marion County Fire District and Keizer Fire District have been implemented, though there have been quite a few cancellations.

“We can encourage them to meet,” Mayor-elect Clark said. “We can address how often. Keeping it strong is important for our cooperation.”

A business advisory committee – known as the Keizer Economic Development Commission – has been created, while the city website overhaul is underway.

“To be completed when?” Freeman asked.

“Gosh, I hope soon,” Eppley said.

Nate Brown, director of Community Development, noted the company with the contract had a hitch and is thus behind schedule.

“They had turnover in staff,” Brown said.

Freeman wanted to know when issues would be resolved.

“Can we get a projection update?” she asked. “It would be nice to know about when.”

Park funding idea brought up again

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Remember those plans to add funding for parks in Keizer?

Brandon Smith sure does.

Smith and other members of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board spent much of 2013 looking at potential long-term funding solutions for parks. Board members spent multiple meetings mulling over the idea of adding $2 to monthly water bills, which would add between $300,000 and $350,000 a year for parks improvements.

The plan had been to hold a public hearing in February, soliciting feedback from citizens about what amenities should be added to parks and then putting a five-year levy on the fall ballot.

Mayor Lore Christopher, however, dumped cold water on those plans last December, telling Parks Board members to put those plans on hold until the community build play structure – the Big Toy – was completed. At the time, construction was set to happen in September, though that has since been pushed back to June 2015.

“Schedule it for October of next year,” Christopher said at the time. “Complete the community build, then talk about the capital improvement plan.”

Smith, who chaired the Parks Board this year and will join the Keizer City Council in January, noted he brought up the idea during a council goal setting meeting on Monday.

“I wanted to talk about the parks funding mechanism,” Smith said. “We spent a lot of time on it in 2013 and were told by council they were not ready to talk about it. For 2013 to 2015 under long-term plans they had parks funding, which means two to 10 years but is really two to five years. Short-term plans are one to two years. I asked for it to be moved. I put it on the board for now at the next goal setting session in February to put that on the short-term goals for council.

“I wanted everyone on the Parks Board to know about it,” he added. “I don’t think we need to start over at ground zero. I feel we can take what we did and build on that.”

In other business Tuesday:

• It was the final meeting for three Parks Board members. Smith and Roland Herrera are both joining the Keizer City Council next month, while Robert Jones is not returning after serving a three-year stint.

Donna Bradley and Dylan Juran have been approved by the Volunteer Coordinating Committee to join the Parks Board in January, though the city council still has to make the final approval. Deputy city recorder Debbie Lockhart noted there are three applicants for the final open spot and said outgoing councilor Jim Taylor is not one of the three.

Richard Walsh took a moment to recognize Smith for his contributions. Smith succeeded Walsh as chair of the board.

“It’s been a year of fantastic accomplishments,” Walsh said. “It wouldn’t be possible without that leadership. We should applaud Brandon for all he’s done.”

After the applause was over, Tanya Hamilton saluted Herrera for his work.

“I want to thank Roland for his energy he brought,” Hamilton said. “He’s also going on.”

Herrera appreciated the opportunity to serve on the Parks Board.

“Thanks for letting me be a part of this thing,” he said. “I really enjoyed working with you folks.”

Smith echoed those thoughts.

“Me, too,” said Smith, who joined the Parks Board in 2013 after his first stint on council ended. “It’s been a lot of fun. I told the council they had an energized Parks Board. It has been a privilege.”

• Walsh nearly missed his opportunity to salute his friend as he arrived halfway through the meeting. He was only a few minutes late, but with a light agenda and a lack of items to talk about, the meeting lasted all of 13 minutes.

When Walsh sat down on the dais, he saw how far down the agenda the board already was.

“We’re already down to here?” he asked.