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Park funding idea brought up again


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.