A person who recently traveled through Keizer commented on how many businesses there were along the main arterials from downtown Salem to Keizer. She was amazed—to her it seemed there were more businesses than one might normally see in cities this size.
Her perception is important. We want visitors to see the many businesses that have decided to call River Road, or Commercial Street, or Broadway Street, home. We especially want potential businesses to see that Keizer is a place to locate, be it a retail store, or an office.
River Road is a state highway; it is used by many people as a way to get from one place to another. The River Road Renaissance project was designed to make Keizer’s main thoroughfare a welcoming and vibrant commercial district. The pedestrian-safe sidewalks coupled with appealing landscaping was created to entice drivers out of their cars and patronize the many businesses.
There is still work to be done. That’s why the city and the city council must put Urban Renewal District dollars back into the project. There are a lot of businesses, but River Road lacks a cohesive identity. As long as a visitor feels there are a lot of businesses here, let’s give them a sense they are in a special place. How does the city do that? An intriguing idea would be to paint River Road blue, like the water it celebrates. Since that idea would never get past federal and state regulations we have to develop something else. That something else is banners.
The Urban Renewal Agency should allocate enough funds to purchase banners for every utility pole along River Road from the south end to the north end that would be changed every quarter.
One banner could herald Keizer as the Iris Capital of the World (hung from March to June), another banner could promote Keizer as a great community for families (Pride, spirit, and volunteerism, not to mention it is a great sports town), a third design could be a River Road-centric message.
A fourth banner could proclaim Keizer the Christmas City (due to the variety of holiday events in town); this should be coupled with new holiday lights. The holidays lights along River Road have seen better days. We propose a campaign to allocate dollars to purchase new holiday lights that would be paid for over a number of years.
A traveler will find street banners in just about every city, town, and village in America. Banners identify a place—it’s good for visitors and it reenforces hometown pride. Banners all along River Road would create the tangible identity we currently lack.