By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Candidates for Keizer City Council’s Position 3 held court on traffic, land use planning and the future of Keizer Station in a campaign forum Tuesday night.
All three qualified candidates – Eamon Bishop, Matthew Chappell and Marlene Quinn – appeared at the forum, moderated by Keizertimes Publisher Lyndon Zaitz.
Their visions for the undeveloped portion of Keizer Station – particularly Area C – varied. Chappell said there was enough, if not too much, retail near the freeway and suggested apartments could be a positive addition, noting economic conditions would be a barrier.
“I have no problem with a large-type grocery there,” Chappell added.
Quinn said medical offices and perhaps a unique grocery store – “not necessarily Trader Joe’s because they didn’t like us,” she quipped – would be a natural fit.
Bishop said he would use a discount grocer like Winco, but added such a store is hardly unique to the area and would likely not be a significant draw for freeway traffic.
“I’d like to see Area C become a destination point,” he added.
On growth, Chappell said Keizer is in a spot where the community can determine its destiny. By sharing an urban growth boundary with Salem, Chappell said, Keizerites can choose whether additional land would be added to the city limits.
“If we had a boundary of our own we’d be under a mandate for growth and wouldn’t be able to decide,” he said.
Quinn said the land inventory in Keizer was inadequate for employment lands needs.
“We don’t have a lot of space to invite businesses here that do bring local jobs,” Quinn said.
Bishop said he was against an urban growth boundary expansion.
All supported some sort of funding for River Road business corridor improvements, with Quinn noting that less than $1 million of the $5 million the city council promised to spend on the River Road Renaissance project had actually been used.
Bishop seemed unimpressed by the sidewalk improvement efforts, saying he doesn’t see the investment paying off. He backed ideas like low-interest loans and temporary tax breaks to participating property owners.
Chappell agreed in principle, but said the diversion of urban renewal dollars to pay off bond debt at Keizer Station – a situation that arose when a developer defaulted on city-backed bonds – made such commitments hard to fulfill in the near future.
Both Quinn and Bishop were concerned about traffic just west of Keizer Station in the McLeod Lane/Lockhaven Drive area. Quinn said when she was commuting to Wilsonville for work it took her 20 minutes from the freeway to her home – as long as the freeway portion took. Bishop who lives in the Gubser neighborhood, said taking his children to school downtown in the morning presented challenges.
Chappell didn’t have specific complaints on traffic, but said congestion was likely to get worse as the population grew.
Asked about transparency from city government, Chappell suggested councilors post explanations of their votes on the city website. Quinn didn’t see a particular problem at city hall, but said there was always room for improvement. Bishop said that Robert’s Rules of Order – the standards by which council meetings are held – kept the public at arm’s length.
Questions were solicited from the public in the weeks prior to the event.