Little League field agreement could boost city funding

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Youth baseball at Keizer Little League Park in 2012 could operate under a one-year agreement between two local organizations. (File)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The City of Keizer may take on additional maintenance at Keizer Little League Park as part of a proposed agreement between the city and two youth sports groups with a serious stake in the facility.

Keizer Youth Sports Association and Keizer Little League would jointly operate the park, while City Manager Chris Eppley is proposing a $35,000 budget allocation that will cover the facility’s basics: electricity and other utilities, irrigation, once-a-week mowing and necessities such as portable toilets. Eppley said his proposal wouldn’t cut into funding for existing parks.

“That will play out through the budget process (for 2013-14),” Eppley said. “The council is aware of that. I hope they will be supportive of that through the budget process … but the process is public.”

In addition, the proposed new funding wouldn’t be used until at least July 1, 2013, when the new budget goes into effect. About $7,000 was allocated in the current budget for the park, which will go towards paying utilities.

“We’ll be maintaining the park at a basic level like we do all of the other parks and they will be responsible for the baseball program in that park,” Eppley said.

The dual leadership setup emerges as a compromise after an at-times acrimonious split resulting in the newly-named Keizer Youth Sports Association taking over the contract to operate the park. That agreement in and of itself was unique: Volunteers, mostly parents of young baseball and softball players, were responsible for virtually every aspect of caring for the park, like maintenance, mowing, irrigation, and many capital improvements. Whatever issues that caused the split aside, Eppley said the end result appeared to be a divided volunteer pool with less fundraising might.

He added that the increased city funding is a sign of the times.

“You have a lot more two-income families and a lot less time for volunteering,” he said.

KYSA President Kurt Barker approached city officials during the budgeting process and said his group would have trouble raising the necessary funds for needed improvements alongside routine maintenance.

Keizer Little League was for several years essentially a customer of KYSA, paying to use the fields. The proposed agreement puts KLL on more equal footing and allows more contribution of volunteer labor, according to Stephanie Bojorquez, president of KLL.

“We’ve actually been asked to submit an interest in it again,” she said. “At that same time, we have almost a complete full and new board – new ideas, new perspective. Those kinds of things really open it up … I don’t think it was ever brought up from the city (previously) to ask both organizations to work together.”

She hopes fundraising efforts will bear more fruit once the public learns that the two groups are working together towards a common goal.

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