The things we want and need

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There are services and amenities a city offers that many of us don’t think about until we want or need them.

If our neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks, we probably don’t think about them. But, how do we feel about them if we suddenly find ourselves needing to use wheelchair? It is much easier to get around on sidewalks than on a gravel shoulder in a wheelchair.

Most of us think about fire or medical services only when we pull over on the road to let an emergency vehicle pass. Of course, if our house is on fire or someone has been injured or is suffering a life-threatening situation, a fire crew or a paramedic is foremost in our mind.

Our city is dotted with parks large and small with a variety of amenities. Parks may not be at the top of our minds, but when we want to get outdoors, take a walk, enjoy a picnic, we’d like a park to be nearby that is clean and maintained.

The city of Keizer and the Keizer Fire District offer dozens of services and products that most of us don’t use on a regular basis. However, some of our neighbors do. We want the city to provide safe streets and sidewalks. We want the city to provide safe and clean parks near where we live.

When facing a fire or medical emergency we want our local fire district to respond in haste with the proper equipment operated by trained professionals.

Residents of Keizer say they want the city and fire district to provide those things, but we need to keep in mind that the city is us, the citizens and residents collectively.

Everyone who calls Keizer home wants the city to be as pleasant as it can be. No one in government wakes up in the morning with the thought they will make life miserable for Keizerites. The biggest debate on providing services in our city is at what level and how to fund them.

The Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board voted to recommend adding $2 per month to city water bills to fund the city’s parks. That would add an estimated $336,000 to Keizer’s existing parks budget. The additional revenue would pay for needed items such as pickup truck, new lawn mower, recreation programs and possibly fund a parks department employee.

It is hard to argue against parks. A visitor to a community of any size will see parks—historic parks, athletic fields, green spaces. When people think about a city’s quality of life they are thinking of parks. Parks that are oases of nature in suburbia, parks that break up an urban landscape, parks that offer a calming,nature space that begs either activity or reflection.

The Keizer City Council will hold a public hearing on the water bill recommendation, debate it and possibly vote on it.  Or, the councilors can decide to pass the question along to voters.

An extra $336,000 dedicated to parks can go far.  As Parks Board chairman and former city councilor Richard Walsh has shown, a little local money can be multiplied many times over with grants (as he showed so deftly with his work on the creation of Keizer Rapids Park).

For Keizer residents in every part of the city to benefit from an enhanced, maintained park system, an additional $2 on bi-monthly water bills is a small price to pay.

A more substantial increase for Keizer residents would be a 59 cent per $1,000 assessed value levy being considered by the Keizer Fire District. A citizen advisory committee (CAC) (this writer was a member of the committee) suggested the 59-cent figure after hearing of the fire district’s current and future financial needs. Asking voters to approve that amount will take clear and concise communication from the district.

While the CAC members had the luxury of getting information about the need for the 59-cent levy over several hours, the average Keizer homeowner will have to get that same information in an understandable form.

We all want Keizer to maintain its quality of life. It is not up only to city hall and the fire hall to do it. We all have to do the heavy lifting of assuring our community reflects our values and our vision of what makes our little corner of the world a pleasantville.

Safe streets and sidewalks, quality parks and quick fire and medical service is not cheap in today’s world. We owe it our children to be sure we have a serious and sober discussion about spending before we reject anything out of hand.   —LAZ

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